One of the great thing about animals is that, while on the surface they seem very similar, the special treat is to get to know them as individuals. Poco and Bebop have two very distinct personalities with disparate preferences and tastes in everything from where they like to be scratched to the types of clients they most enjoy visiting.
When we first got the girls, it was initially difficult to see any distinct traits aside from their obvious physical differences, but as time went by, it was apparent they were as different as their colors. Bebop being older and handled more, was more confident with people and sought security in humans; Poco was a little more shy but was less reactive to unusual environmental factors.
And likewise they pick their clients. Bebop is content with everybody. She is reliable in any situation, and while not as flashy and “adorable” as Poco, she loves everyone equally. She stands to be petted and moves where she is asked and tolerates any indignity with aplomb. She seemed to be a natural at the therapy pony gig and never questioned why she should have to avail herself to other people’s affections.
Poco is the diva and sometimes seems to think that her presence and fantasy pony good looks are sufficient and such things of beauty do not need to be touched. She is more likely to be really drawn to one particular person and be very aloof with all others. She seems to prefer clients with profound disabilities and enjoys laying her head on their lap or bed and communing, conveying her special aura to only select few. These moments often bring tears to the eyes of those fortunate enough to witness these interludes and while rare, keep her a valued member of our program.
And the girls are quirky. Bebop always steals the straws out of my cups, and Poco loves to play keep away in the pasture. The greater hurry I am in, the more she enjoys this game. Bebop also enjoys “sharing breath”. She will sit with her nose to my nose and just breathe in my space. Not everyone appreciates this amazing privilege as much as I do, but horses do this in the herd and only with those they have formed special family bonds with. Bebop loves to sass and herd my big draft cross while Poco bats her big lashes and simply gazes adoringly at him.
And then there is Smokey. Smokey is a therapy horse too. Big and imposing, but incredibly kind and gentle, his forte is showing people how careful and sensitive a big guy can be. At well of 1/2 ton, he is all muscles and feathers with a HUGE sense of humor and lots of self confidence. Smokey gives kisses, bows and hugs, but his favorite trick is to stand very quietly, drooping his pendulous lower lip while being mobbed for pets. There is not a square inch on Smokey’s body that he doesn’t love petted.