-- Even for a miniature horse, Itty Bitty Hope is pretty small.
Her height at birth -- just 14 inches -- was tied with the record of the smallest horse on record, according to her owners.
And while being tiny may not always be seen as a positive, for a horse who will spend her life as a therapy animal, it couldn't be better.
"She'll be able to navigate around hospitals and nursing homes and medical equipment more easily," said her owner Linda Wood, who runs the Mini Hooves of Love Miniature Therapy Horses non-profit with her husband Jim Wood.
"Hope" as they refer to her, will also be great with the many kids she'll be visiting.
The Woods came to be Hope's people parents through and old-fashioned barter. A woman who breeds miniature horses hoped Jim would build her stalls, and offered the Woods their pick of any of the three pregnant mares. They chose Jazz, Hope's mother, because she was the smallest and would have the best chance of having a small baby.
It's that big kind of comfort that little Hope will bring people in her life.
Linda Wood added, "Many people who are in nursing homes now are of the age that they had interaction with horses when they were young. One man who had been a farmer had tears in his eyes as he pet one of the horses, he said he hadn't touched a horse in 16 years." In another anecdote, a woman whose nurses said was unable to move reached out and stroked the head of one of the miniature horses while the nurse stood by in shock.
Hope is still with her mom at the breeder and since she is nursing, she can't be away from her mom for more than an hour or so. But there's a hospice call the Woods are thinking of taking her along on coming up, as long as mom can come, too.