TORONTO -- Neighbourhood walks have become a popular activity to combat COVID-19 boredom, but Debra Carey-Knox has kicked them up a notch, and it’s become a hotly anticipated event in her Ontario community.

With two companions standing at two feet tall and full of attitude, Carey-Knox’s neighbours love to come out and say hello to her therapeutic miniature horses. It’s exactly what Angel and Carma want.

"Things like going for walks, giving hugs, getting attention. She loves attention,” said Carey-Knox of one of her companions.

Angel, a piebald miniature horse, butts her way into Carey-Knox’s arms for an impromptu snuggle.

“Don’t mind me,” she laughs.

The two miniature horses are some of the most popular neighbours in the Ottawa municipality of Munster, and it’s no secret why.

“With COVID everybody is so stressed and they are so tired and there is so much need right now just for a little bit of happiness. And that's what we do,” said Carey-Knox.

Members of the community wait for Carey-Knox to post walk updates on her Facebook page so they can gather at the end of their driveways to engage with the small animals as they go by.

“She’s not loud when she walks around the house?” a young neighbour asks while miming hooves in the air.

The children and parents in the neighbourhood love to pop out and say hello and give them a nice pet, sometimes even a treat.

“It’s therapeutic, really, to connect and play with the animals,” said a neighbour as young children ran their hands through Carma’s and Angel’s manes.

It’s not just good for the community, it’s great for the horses to keep up their connection with other humans. When COVID-19 restrictions lift, they’ll be able to return to hospitals and long-term care facilities to visit long-term patients and residents.

“It's the little things like this that make you get through the next week, get through the next time and we'll get through this and we'll be done,” said Carey-Knox. “And back to some sort of normal eventually.”