Springhill, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Emergency room clerk Lydia Box was sitting at the front desk of Springhill Medical Center on Sunday morning when “one of the housekeepers came running in and said there’s a Shetland pony outside,” Box told KTAL NBC News 6.

Susie Goodner, a registered nurse who works in the emergency room, said there’s a patch of woods and a pasture behind the hospital. “We’re always seeing families of deer back there grazing. There are a lot of acorns they eat. But when the little Shetland pony came up, and it was gentle and its mane was braided, we put pictures on Facebook and called the Chief of Police Will Lynd–he has cows close to the hospital. We thought the pony might be his.”

Goodner told KTAL she and a few others at the hospital thought the pony might be pregnant. “We told the ER doc he might need to freshen up on his vet skills because she might have been coming to deliver,” Goodner said with a laugh.

Derek Melancon, Director of Human Resources and Marketing at Springhill Medical Center, said the hospital has a staff that not only cares about people but animals, too. “We actually have a black cat that lives out the back door of the hospital that everyone takes care of and loves.”

Goodner says Box started calling the miniature pony “Pearl” because, as Box said, “she looks like a pearl.” When the photos of “Pearl” made their rounds on social media and the owners were located, it was discovered that the Shetland pony’s name was indeed Pearl.

Susie Goodner (left) Lydia Box (center) and Shelby Bass pictured with Pearl the Shetland pony at Springhill Medical Center on the morning of Saturday, October 16; photo by Lydia Box

“She doesn’t really think she’s a horse. That’s the problem. She thinks she’s a person,” said Lee Birdsong, Pearl’s owner. “She tries to get in the car with you. Kids ride her in barrel races and everything, so she is an actual horse. But she’s not pregnant; she’s just fat.”

Birdsong said Pearl was his stepdaughter Chloe’s first horse. “Chloe’s 13 now but she won’t let her go,” he told KTAL. “Chloe gets her out and walks her around the neighborhood, and she’s walked her down to the hospital before.”

Pearl had never gotten out of the fence until the hospital adventure and the family still hasn’t figured out how she did it. But Pearl is highly intelligent and has quite a personality.

“When Pearl doesn’t want to be messed with, she runs and jumps in the pond,” Birdsong said. “She thinks she’s a big horse, but she’s not. When she’s with the big horses, she has an attitude and kicks but she’s so little she can’t even kick them in the ankles. But Pearl is a sweetheart and she’s really good with kids.”  

Chloe says she’s had Pearl since she was six months old and she’s a really good pony.

Pearl the pony has a snack at Springhill Medical Center before making the return trip home. Photo by Susie Goodner.

Lee Birdsong says he thinks that when Pearl made her appearance at Springhill Medical Center, she was just taking a walk around the neighborhood like she often does with Chloe.  

“We all ran out and calmly approached her and began taking pictures,” said Lydia Box of the moment when the Shetland pony showed up at the emergency room. ”We were going to hitch her to a post to protect her from traffic, but Pearl wouldn’t let us. We fed her and hoped she would hang out, but she wandered back home. She made everybody happy, though.”