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By Jan Westmark-Allan
As horse people, we are well aware that equines provide an
amazing source of therapy in the form of love, comfort, happiness
and healing. Magic, an adorable Miniature Horse from Gentle
Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses in Gainesville, Florida, has
touched people across the country through her therapeutic skills.
Following the tragic school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, the
Newton community contacted Gentle Carousel and asked if Magic
and her friends could visit Sandy Hook Elementary to provide
some much needed therapy.
Magic is Gentle Carousel’s star therapy horse and was named by
TIME Magazine as one of History’s Ten Most Heroic Animals (the
only living animal on the list). She is also AARP’s Most Heroic Pet
in America, a Readers Digest/Americantowns Power of One Hero
and was one of Newsweek/The Daily
Beast’s Ten Most Heroic Animals
In America. When Gentle Carousel
received the call from Newton,
Gentle Carousel founders Jorge and
Debbie Garcia-Bengochea, a group
of volunteers, Magic and other minis
from Gentle Carousel traveled to
Newton to work their “magic.”
“The original plan was for the
therapy horses to stay for one week
but we were asked to stay a second
week to help more families,” Debbie
said. “In addition to visiting schools,
making private visits and spending
time with frst responders, Magic
spent over three hours with more than
600 people who came to see her inside Newtown’s library. We
were told that there may be just two or three children because the
library had been very quiet since the tragedy...the librarian was
pretty surprised.”
Students and families from the Sandy Hook Elementary School
had their own private time with Magic and friends at the Newtown
Youth Academy Sports and Fitness Center. Magic met hundreds
of survivors, siblings and parents who patiently waited in line for
some equine love. It took almost four hours to meet everyone.
“At a Sandy Hook preschool, where many of the Sandy Hook
victims attended last year, the director said having Magic in the
school was the frst time she had seen the teachers smile or heard
the children sing since the tragedy. One of the teachers had lost
nine of her former students,” Debbie said.
While in Newtown, Magic and Gentle Carousel volunteers met
with the parents and brother of six-year-old animal lover and
equestrian Catherine Hubbard. Catherine was lost in the Sandy
Hook Elementary School tragedy.
During Hurricane Debby in 2012, a
very tiny foal was born in the worst
of the storm at Gentle Carousel
Miniature Therapy Horses. “With her
parents blessing, the flly has been
named Catherine in memory of their
daughter. The flly is being trained
to work with children inside schools
and hospital programs,” Debbie said.
“She will wear a pink therapy vest and
halter, Catherine Hubbard’s favorite
color. Magic and Catherine are sisters
and both have been invited back to
Newtown in the spring.”
All photos courtesy of Gentle Carousel
Miniature Therapy Horses
A “Magic” Visit to Sandy Hook Elementary
The Bottom Line
The USA Today reported, “Beryl Harrison, assistant director at
Newtown’s Booth Library, hosted a children’s program with the
horses and said the excitement surrounding the event seemed
like the beginning of a return to normalcy... like a step forward
after weeks of grieving.”
The Bottom Line:
Thank you Magic and all the great folks at Gentle Carousel for spreading equine love and therapy in Newtown.
As fellow equestrians, we are proud of the work you do and want to thank you for providing therapy where it is needed. We hope
you continue to spread your magic to those who need it most!
Therapy horses Magic and Wakanda stopped by the memorial at
the town hall in Newtown. The Governor of Connecticut issued
a statement about Gentle Carousel, saying, “On behalf of the
State of Connecticut, I want to thank you for your willingness
to give your time and expertise in the wake of the tragedy at
Sandy Hook Elementary School last month.” - Dannel P. Malloy,
Governor of Connecticut
Gentle Carousel
Jorge Garcia-
Bengochea holds
Catherine, a
foal named after
young equestrian
Hubbard, a victim
in the Sandy
Hook Elementary
School shooting.