By Rachel Ann Johnson
Among the throngs of supporters at the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s event in Sun City Center on Saturday, October 26, was an unexpected participant. A miniature stallion named Scooby Boo walked the route dressed in colorful heart-shaped paper cut-outs bearing the names of those affected by the condition.
Charity work is nothing new for the 11-year-old silver-dappled horse with flaxen main and tail. Certified for animal assisted therapy, the 29-inch tall stallion does more than walk for charity. His owner, Robin Bidwell of Lutz, accompanies him to hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, assisted living facilities and schools.
“He brings happiness to the people he meets getting them to enjoy a moment of their day,” said Bidwell, who has observed patients respond positively to the horse. “We entered a man’s room who had been unresponsive,” she said. “He petted Boo for about five minutes and began tearing up because he said he thought he would never see another horse again.” She later discovered that the man was a retired jockey.
Finding a listing for the once-neglected horse online about four years ago, Bidwell welcomed the registered miniature into her family. “He was in pretty bad shape. His teeth needed work and his feet were cracked,” she said. But after a few months of care, the small horse regained his health and Bidwell admits she spoils him with his favorite snacks consisting of apples, bananas, carrots and peppermint candies.
Bidwell has big plans for his future. “We are on a quest to visit all the Pasco County after-school programs starting in January,” she said. She teaches students about animal assistant therapy through an hour-long Scooby Session and engages the elementary and middle school students with Scooby Boo’s presence.
Although many may be familiar with therapy dogs, this therapy horse is unique, even sporting high-top style shoes and cowboy boots created for teddy bears. As for his legacy, Bidwell hopes the horse brings a small change and a moment of happiness in the lives of people he meets. For more information, visit on Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Scooby-Boo-Therapy-Service-Miniature-Horse/151727134910245.