(SOUTH EGREMONT, Mass.) – Martha Stewart’s Whole Living, a wellness magazine with international reach, recently featured Blue Rider Stables’ Billy Boy, a 25-year old Greek donkey recognized as a model therapy animal. “Animal Magnetism,” written by Elizabeth Hess of Chatham, N.Y., appears in the January/February issue, where Billy Boy is described as the country’s first equine to earn Pet Partner status.
Pet Partners are registered teams credentialed by Delta Society to provide animal assisted therapy to children and adults. Billy Boy and his Pet Partner, Robin Parow of Spencertown, N.Y., visited Berkshire County facilities including Berkshire Meadows, Fairview Commons, and Great Barrington Rehabilitation and Nursing Centers.
Hess, an animal advocate, accompanied Parow and Billy Boy to a Great Barrington nursing facility, and in this article recounts the duo’s visit where Billy “worked the room,” interacting with patients in wheelchairs and at bedsides.
Hess describes Billy Boy’s extraordinary personality and trainability as an ideal combination for therapy work, something he has done for over 20 years at Blue Rider Stables in South Egremont. The article also describes the work of other therapy animals, including a Vietnamese pot bellied pig, Bactrian camels, a pit bull dog, and a chicken.
“Billy was rescued at auction as a five year old,” said Blue Rider Stable’s head riding instructor and executive director Christine Sierau. “In his career at Blue Rider, he has provided opportunities for animal-assisted therapy to countless students who have come to love and trust him here at the barn and on visits to facilities throughout Berkshire County.” Billy Boy has also been featured on Animal Planet with Parow for his therapy work in nursing facilities.
Founded in 1991, Blue Rider Stables is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating positive opportunities through holistic horseback riding. Their programs include therapeutic riding, basic safe riding, riding without fear, vaulting, horse care, stable management, summer programs and more. Their horses are healthy, sensitive teachers chosen for their characters and dispositions. Donkeys, goats, rabbits, chickens, cats, and Theo the pigeon round out the Blue Rider Family. For more information, visit Blue Rider Stables or call 413 528-5299.
Caption: Louise and Christine Sierau pose with therapy donkey Billy Boy for noted documentary photographer Mary Ellen Mark during a shooting session for Martha Stewart’s Whole Living magazine. An article featuring the 25 year old donkey appears in the January/February issue, and highlights the work of therapy animals and their handlers.
Photo Credit: Laurel Graney