Arthur’s special time with Winston the quarterhorse – more than mere horsing around

When staff at HammondCare Hammondville noticed resident Arthur Sherman feeling low after months of COVID-19 restrictions, they suspected some horse therapy might lift his spirits.

Arthur Sherman lying in his wheelchair pats quarterhorse Winston, his wife Elaine Sherman pushes the wheelchair and son Steven Sherman stands smiling behind themWhen staff at HammondCare Hammondville noticed resident Arthur Sherman feeling low after months of COVID-19 restrictions, they suspected some horse therapy might lift his spirits.

They were aware horses had always been a big part of life for Arthur, now 85 and living in full-time care with dementia.

As a seven-year-old boy, Arthur had saved enough pennies from a paper run to buy his first horse. There was no backyard at the St Peters family home in Sydney’s inner west, so the filly named Blossom was kept in the rear lane beside the railway line.

Later, after marrying his great love Elaine, the family bought another horse, Bobby – and kept it on a property owned by Austral Bricks at Horsley Park – so Mr Sherman could pursue the joy of riding on weekends.

Arthur Sherman pats horse Winston at HammondCare HammondvilleHammondCare staff noticed Arthur had been feeling low in recent times, especially as COVID-19 restrictions had meant he had being seeing less of his bride of 64 years. Harding Cottages Residential Manager Bishal KC and Registered Nurse Stacey Nailor made enquiries for Mr Sherman to have a visit from Winston the quarterhorse.

His wife Elaine along with their son Steven were there to witness what was an emotional time as Arthur met Winston.

Elaine said Arthur, who is not mobile due to ill health, was overwhelmed when he was wheeled out to meet Winston and his trainer Christie Hall, an experience pet therapist, under a vine-covered arbour.

“Arthur said to me: ‘Darling, is this for me?,” Elaine explained. “It was just a beautiful experience for everyone who was there.”

The experience was so emotional for Elaine, she made the effort to call 2GB presenter Deborah Knight on Friday 3 December, 2021, to discuss the horse therapy and express her thanks on air to HammondCare staff.

Arthur Sherman pats horse Winston“I was crying it was just so wonderful,” she told listeners. “I did not win Lotto or anything like that, but it was a great win for the family and for my husband.”

Ms Knight, too, was clearly moved by the story of Arthur meeting Winston. “We so often hear of the awful things happening in aged care homes and we know there are many that can do a lot better. But the care delivered to your husband shows HammondCare is a good one,” she said.

HammondCare Chief Executive Mike Baird said it was pleasing to hear stories like this of HammondCare staff providing exceptional care to improve the quality of life for residents. “It’s an important part of HammondCare’s model of care to get to know the person and what matters to them in their lives,” Mr Baird said.

Arthur, who had a career as a brickmaker, initially moved with wife Elaine from their home at Chipping Norton to Independent Living Units at Hammondville.

Due to his dementia, Arthur moved to the nearby Harding Cottages for extra support two years ago.