26th May 2017 by Larchfield Community
Pepsi arrived at night and was eager to greet everyone when they came to her stable to see her the next morning - she was quite a surprise to the community members, day placements and staff who work on the farm.
Eileen's family have owned Pepsi since she was just a year old and she has spent most of her life in a Camphill community working with adults with a learning disability and living in a farm environment. Pepsi is extremely well mannered and is used to being surrounded by lots of people.
Pepsi with Eileen at 1 year old Pepsi with Larchfield sheep
Everyone has worked extremely hard to settle Pepsi into her new home and have made sure that she is brushed, exercised, fed and watered every day and that she has a clean stable to come home to every night. Pepsi has also been doing a great job working on the farm. She can carry as much as 40 kilos of sheep food around on the farm and this was really useful in the run up to lambing as it meant we didn't have to carry the buckets around ourselves. It has also been fun for people to learn how to put her harness on and to catch a ride back from the fields once the sheep have been fed.
As well as being a valuable, hard-working member of the farm team there are additional benefits to having Pepsi around. Equine assisted activities provide mental and physical exercises and contact with Pepsi is a perfect opportunity to practice these. Interacting with Pepsi means first understanding and then working around her moods, attitudes and personality. When physically caring for Pepsi there is a chance to improve muscle strength, co-ordination and physical self-awareness. Pepsi's small size and quiet nature also makes her an ideal animal to interact with on a far more intimate level than with larger, much more intimidating animals.
One small pony comes with so many benefits; there are opportunities to learn about animal anatomy, biology, health and behaviours - people learn about the level of care that is needed to look after a pony properly and these skills can be transferred to teach people about the importance of looking after themselves and others. For those who struggle with social interactions working with a pony can provide an opportunity to practice, it being much easier to build a healthy, stress free and successful working relationship with a pony because they are non-judgemental. Confidence can be built in taking on the responsibility of leading Pepsi as it requires self-awareness and having to know where Pepsi is and taking on the role of leader and ensuring you are going in the right direction. Eventually these skills can be translated into successful interactions with people.
Overall, those who have had contact with Pepsi have found working with her to be an enriching and rewarding experience and any mention of her generally raises a smile. On the 11th of May Pepsi celebrated her 16th birthday and she had a new head-collar as her gift.
Chris and Amir leading Pepsi Pepsi at rest