Pet pony understands child’s difficulties following brain injury

Daisy Pritchard suffered a stroke as a toddler and found a source of recovery in pony, Dollar.

The nine-year-old has made an extraordinary improvement and has learned to walk again with the help of dollar, after a stroke she had during heart surgery. Daisy's family were told by doctors that she would never walk or talk again and would never progress beyond the skills of a baby. However when she was three, Dollar – who belongs to Daisy's mother, Eileen – sauntered over to the little girl in her wheelchair. "There was a flicker of recognition between the two of them," said Eileen. "Then Daisy turned her head towards his and Dollar put his ears back as if to say, "I'm here". 'It was the first time since the stroke Daisy had moved her head and in that moment I saw a spark of the child I'd lost." After eight months Mrs Pritchard began holding Daisy up on Dollar's saddle. Daisy had been undergoing physiotherapy for her back, which was twisted after the stroke left her right side paralysed. She disliked the repetitive exercises– holding the reins with her left hand – proved to be the perfect therapy. By the age of five, her back muscles were strong enough to allow her to walk short distances. Daisy was born with three heart chambers instead of the normal four and needed an operation to reposition her arteries. The first surgery went wrong and she was rushed back for a second, during which she had the stroke. Her mother said: 'When Daisy had gone into theatre she'd been a beautiful, blonde, chatty toddler who was running around. Now she was just lying there helpless.' Since learning to ride, Daisy is now walking, talking and attending mainstream school – although she still uses a scooter or wheelchair to help her get around outside the house. She can ride without any assistance and has even developed a special way of communicating with Dollar, tapping either side of his neck to ask him to turn. Mrs Pritchard said: 'Without Dollar in her life I don't believe Daisy would have ever recovered. He became her legs, her reason to get up and walk. "I thought I'd lost my beautiful daughter but his healing has brought her back. "With other people Dollar can be quite boisterous. But when Daisy is riding him he purposely takes smaller steps. He is devoted, ensuring she's steady on him. "When Daisy rides Dollar onlookers have no idea at all she is paralysed down her right side, unable to use her right arm and leg."
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