ATHENS, Tenn. — Morning Pointe of Athens residents enjoy a host of furry and four-legged friends that exchange cuddles with the seniors at the assisted living community. Recently, the residents made friends with animals of a different breed during their trip to A-Wil Farms — a local horse farm.

The residents learned the different varieties of horses through hands-on “equine therapy.” Shelby Wilson, life enrichment director at Morning Pointe, says the experience has positive impacts on seniors.

“It’s quite remarkable the impact animals can have on the brain, recognition, memory and mood,” Wilson says. “The simple act of spending time with an animal can foster focus and peace of mind.”

She says the visit to the horse farm brought back childhood memories for some of the residents. For others, she says it was a way to encouragement.

“Eventually, the ability of seniors to conquer their fears is achieved,” she says. “And when they do, the joy in their faces is priceless.”

Morning Pointe uses the power of pet therapy to create new, unique connections with the residents as part of the life enrichment program.

“The residents really bonded on the farm and enjoyed every minute of it,” says Shelby Wilson, life enrichment director at Morning Pointe. “We plan to visit monthly so we can learn new ways to handle the horses. Seeing how the seniors really enjoyed every minute of it was remarkable.”

Photo: Merry Scott, Morning Pointe of Athens resident, visits with “Ted” the horse at A-Wil Farms.

Photo: Merry Scott, Noble Clark, and Juanita Robinson, Morning Pointe of Athens residents, browse the stables during their “equine therapy” day at A-Will Farms.