Mack Makes The Scene

Thomas MacMillan PhotoA first-time visitor to New Haven was a little nervous to be around all the honking cars and hissing buses on Howard Avenue, but he quickly made lots of friends—and was even offered some sweet carrot snacks.

The first-time visitor was Mackaday, a 14-year-old quarter horse from Bethany. He stopped by the weekly farmers market at Connecticut Mental Health Center (CMHC) at the corner of Park and Howard Friday to be a pleasant presence.

Mackaday, known as Mack for short, is a therapeutic horse at Red Skye, an animal-assisted therapy center in Bethany. Mack’s colleague, Phoebe the dog, is a regular visitor to the CMHC. Friday was Mack’s first time.

Except for a little jumpiness around some of the loud noises he encountered, Mack settled right in. With his nibbling lips working around a discarded coffee cup lid, Mack grazed a strip of grass near the sidewalk and submitted himself to petting by passersby.

Vernetta Anthony (at center in photo) walked by with her daughter Tiffany Foster and grandson Trezur Perkins, on her way to a doctor’s appointment.

“He is beautiful!” she exclaimed. She snapped a picture of the horse with her cell phone.

Anthony said she just moved to Connecticut from Georgia six weeks ago. Mack reminds her of Prince, the horse she had on her grandfather’s farm when she was a kid, she said.

“I’ve never seen a horse in person,” said another passerby.

Niki Cogliano (pictured kissing Mack), the Red Skye staffer who was holding Mack’s lead, said the man could pet him. “He’s like a big dog!” she said cheerfully.

The man cautiously approached Mack and stroked his flank. “Horses don’t bite?” he asked.

“He loves all the attention,” Cogliano said.

Being in the city is a change from Mack’s normal routine, hanging out in a pasture in Bethany with his horse buddy, Buddy.

Phoebe the dog was also available for passerby petting, and wasn’t completely upstaged by her equine colleague. Lots of people stopped to stroke her as well.

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posted by: KidsFirst on September 16, 2012  11:19am

Awesome! This is a thoughtful opportunity to expose folks, who might otherwise not have had a safe, positive and close-up experience with different types of animals. Do more often!! Perhaps get permission to visit schools too!