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.
EGREMONT, Mass. — Martha Stewart's Whole Living, a wellness magazine with international reach, recently featured Blue Rider Stable's 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, in which 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 during which 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 more than 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 and a chicken.
"Billy was rescued at auction as a 5-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 non-profit organization dedicated to creating positive opportunities through holistic horseback riding. Programs include therapeutic riding, basic safe riding, riding without fear, vaulting, horse care, stable management, summer programs and more. Donkeys, goats, rabbits, chickens, cats and Theo the pigeon round out the Blue Rider Family. For more information, visit www.bluerider.org or call 413 528-5299.
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