‘Eli’ the service horse is helping Haysville students in a unique way

KSN Digital Extra

HAYSVILLE, Kan. (KSNW) – A therapy horse is making his way across Haysville to help people throughout the community.

“Poco De Oro”, otherwise known as Eli, is a miniature service horse who’s sharing his gentlemanly personality with adults and children, helping those with his calm, loving demeanor.

Eli became a service horse when his new owner got him for free to help her get around.

“My eyesight is not the best in the world and I have problems with depth perception”, said Marsha Mendenhall, Eli’s owner. “When I am on uneven ground, like a park or something like that, I can’t tell for sure if I need to step up or step down or if there’s a hole there or if it’s just a shadow, so he is for my stability in case I would stumble or fall.”

Mendenhall says once she got to know Eli, she realized he had a bigger purpose.

“I was unaware of the potential that he had when I first got him,” said Mendenhall.

That’s when she decided to take Eli to nursing homes and even local elementary schools.

She started a program called Neigh-Borly Friends, which started as a way to help children who are bullied.

“I was looking at a site that was focusing on bullying and I was having a hard time connecting with them and the more I thought about it I decided I didn’t want to focus on the negative,” said Mendenhall. “Kids hear enough about bullying, and I thought, ‘what causes bullying?’ A lot of times it’s a lack of positive self-esteem, so I thought that would be a good thing to work on.”

A Haysville principal says Mendenhall is really helping students see their potential.

“This is very exciting because it really helps them make that connection about the things they’re really good about and the things that may come up against them that they feel like, well somebody name called, or something like that,” said Mike Mitchener, Principal of Nelson Elementary. “It makes them realize that’s not really who I am. I am that person who can do things, I can accomplish things. It’s an exciting time for them with those positive things that kind of does away with the negative things.”

Mendenhall says her hope is to bring joy to others and expand Eli’s help to those who are suffering.

“Horses bring joy to people and people can communicate with horses and they’re just wonderful to have around,” said Mendenhall.

For more information about Eli, you can visit his Facebook page here.

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