Panda, a beautiful palomino paint horse, spends her days undergoing training as a riding horse. However, it seems that Panda has a penchant for playful mischief instead.
If Panda had her way, she would visit the local dementia unit in town every day. However, for now, she must resort to sneaking out to see her beloved friends residing there. In a TikTok video, Panda’s owner, Maija Vance, exclaims, “How many times has my horse gotten loose and galloped into the dementia unit in town, leaving me to ride her back home…” The answer to that question is twice, as Panda has managed to escape on two occasions, prompting Vance to chase after her and bring her back home. In her videos, Vance can be heard sincerely apologizing to others for the mischief caused by her free-spirited horse.
Admittedly, Vance accepts full responsibility for Panda’s escapades. She acknowledges that it was her idea to take Panda to the dementia unit to bring joy to the patients and that Panda, overwhelmed by the love and attention received, now seeks ways to venture into town and return to her friends. Vance expresses this sentiment in one of her TikTok videos, with the onscreen text reading, “This is 100% my fault. I took her to the dementia unit to visit the patients. They adored her and showered her with carrots. Now she tries to find ways to escape and find her way back there.” In her attempts to coax Panda to come back home, Vance displays her dedication to rectifying the situation.
TikTok commenters speculate that Panda’s true calling may be as a therapy horse rather than a riding horse. One commenter states, “He really wants to be a therapy pony… let him pursue his dreams!” Others believe that Panda simply enjoys the company of her “friends” at the dementia unit. Another commenter shares, “OK, but this is so heartwarming. She wants to go back and visit her friends.”
Those who work in nursing homes share their perspective, highlighting the positive impact Panda has on the residents. As one person comments, “As someone who works in a nursing home, I can assure you the residents love it whenever they catch a glimpse of Panda. She is the talk of the town. Personally, my job satisfaction would be much higher if I had a random horse that occasionally appeared.” It is well-known that horses possess remarkable memories, allowing them to remember individuals and familiar faces. NBC News reports that horses especially remember those who have treated them well, and they have a strong ability to form lasting connections.
Furthermore, horses have been found to possess a surprising understanding of human language. Their “excellent memories” enable them to recall their human friends even after being separated for extended periods. These remarkable qualities further contribute to the charm and uniqueness of these magnificent creatures.