Just listen to Sally play the piano and it becomes clear she brings joy to others—not to mention herself—through her music.
That wouldn’t be so strange were Sally not a horse.
Animal sanctuary owner Jacqueline, 50, from Greely, Ontario, walks Sally into the barn where objects are regularly laid out on a table for the horse to choose from. Sometimes Sally selects the type of brush she likes—with either coarser or finer bristles—that will be used to give her a good, soothing rubdown.
But rather often she chooses the flat keyboard piano, which sends jubilating sound textures into her eager horsey ears while delighting her human carers.
“What she is doing is exploring,” said Jacqueline, who has kept Sally at Little Creek Farm and Sanctuary for eight years now. “A lot of people want us to teach her an actual song, but we don’t want to do that, because then she would be performing for us.”
The first time Sally saw the piano, it must have seemed like “a scary new object,” Jacqueline said. But the horse, who had been quite sick and afraid at first, grew braver each time the instrument was presented until she was ready to be invited to try something new.
“It took four times,” Jacqueline said. “The third time, she realized that when she plays, she gets treats. And then on the fourth time, we actually removed the treats and just see what happens.”
Now Sally eagerly rubs her big horsey nose on the bare table before the piano is even placed down, as though expecting a sound, generating human laughter.
“That’s her asking to play the piano,” Jacqueline said.
Sally’s music is of her own composing and for her own enjoyment but has, nevertheless, gone toward another cause: helping to fundraise for other animal’s medical needs at the sanctuary. “Sally has never said no to playing the piano,” Jacqueline said.
As all this carried on, it seemed just a matter of time before Sally the piano-playing horse went viral. And she soon did.
As viewers flooded in, Jacqueline says, 95 percent of the comments they received were positive, though whenever something goes that viral, you’ll always get some nastiness.
“There are always people that will say, ‘Oh, she’s not doing it for her own enjoyment; she’s doing it for the treat,’“ she said. ”There will always be people that say that.”
Sally, it seems, tells differently. “She is a very complex horse,” Jacqueline said. “She’s not shy at all in letting us know. If she doesn’t like something, we know.”