HE may only be just 34 inches tall but American miniature horse Lofty spread a lot of joy when he strutted his stuff at hospital – wearing specially made trainers.

The tiny equine who is a qualified therapy horse came all the way from Somerset to provide comfort for animal-loving patients to help rekindle memories, create conversation and leave a lasting ‘feel good’ legacy.

And five-year-old Lofty – wearing his trendy Converse trainers – had such an incredible impact on patients and staff at the Tarrant Ward at Blandford Hospital, a return visit is already planned for November.

His visit was made possible after ward sister Kimberley Witt spotted the positive effect he was having at care homes and special needs schools across Somerset on social media and contacted his owners April and Steve Kibby.

Kimberley said: “I knew he would prove popular among everyone he met, but the positivity he brought and the reactions he got from patients was amazing.

“We had one lady in particular with dementia and profound deafness who seemed to strike up an immediate connection with Lofty, having found it difficult to communicate with staff looking after her.

“As soon as Lofty entered her room, she stroked and held his muzzle and gazed into his eyes with a smile. It was moments like this that made the whole thing worthwhile.”

Senior Sister Gill Wood, said: “Lofty’s presence just gave everyone a high, and reminded patients that there is life outside these hospital walls. It is surprising how many of our patients can relate to him or have memories of horses they once owned or have known in the past.”

Lofty has been doing therapy visits since 2015. Research shows that animals can promote relaxation and lower blood pressure in humans. They can also help children who are reluctant to communicate or have low self-esteem.

His owner April said: “Lofty is an extremely loving and easy going character, and this makes him perfect for therapy visits. Some of the interactions he has with adults and children are phenomenal - and this reminds us why we do it.

“To see patients at Blandford Hospital come to life in Lofty’s presence, having been quite withdrawn for some time was fantastic to see, and we are so grateful to the Tarrant team who raised and donated £230. We don’t charge for visits but this really helps.”