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Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses are a team of 20 very tiny horses that work with children and adults inside hospitals, assisted care programs, group homes and with patients in hospice care. They also work with adults and children with disabilities and at risk and abused children. From cheering up young cancer patients to building bridges with Alzheimer patients this team of special horses visited over 4000 adults and children in 2009 ( www.Horse-Therapy.org )
The therapy horses are able to walk up and down stairs, ride in elevators, walk on unusual floor surfaces and move around hospital equipment. They have even traveled on airplanes and worked in television and radio studios. They are calm in the most challenging situations...and yes they are house broken. Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses is an all volunteer 501(c)(3) charity.
Gentle Carousel therapy horse Magic was just selected by AARP as the Most Heroic Pet in America. The top ten finalists included eight dogs and a cat from around the country but Magic was the only horse. She will be featured in the 2010 May/June AARP Magazine. .
So why is Magic the Most Heroic Pet in America? Magic has been part of many miracles and has touched thousands over the past few years. She is a special friend to an eight-year-old girl who had a heart transplant and now is winning her fight with leukemia. Magic was at a hospital bed as someone woke from a coma. She was comforting a man who peacefully passed away with his hand resting on Magic's head. From the Ronald McDonald House to programs for autistic children, Magic has worked her magic.
While a reporter was taking photos of a Gentle Carousel visit in September 2009, a woman who had not spoken since she arrived at the assisted care facility three years earlier began talking Magic. "Isn't she beautiful" were her first words. "It's a horse". The activities director began to cry and told the woman she loved her. "I love you too," the woman answered...her first words to another person in all those years. Before Magic left the woman asked, "Will she come back again?" The woman has continued to talk since that visit with Magic
Her story and others will be featured in a documentary being made about Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses. Filmmakers from Sundance, Utah, came to Florida in November 2009 to follow the horses at work and to film interviews.
"We had a resident who did not speak. And the horses came in and for the first time she spoke words. Everybody cried. It was just the most touching, heartfelt experience I ever had. You can’t even put a word on it. When you see something like that happen, somebody who has not spoken in years, and this horse, this beautiful creature comes in, and the resident is petting and holding and hugging and then speaks words. Everybody cried. It was wonderful.
"They’re the bridge. They connect our residents with maybe a memory, a feeling, something that they’ve done in their life. It’s just such an experience. There are no words to describe it. That was a miracle...They donate their ti me, their expense, their volunteers to come and share with us and change the lives of the residents that live here. They spread a little bit of magic in everyone’s lives when they come and it’s donated."
Ann Marie, Regional Activity Coordinator and Community Liaison, Hampton Manor: “I chair the Governor’s Commission On Disabilities and we’re very interested in this program. We’ll be studying the program this year and my guess is there will be some recommendations to the governor and the legislature about at least beginning a pilot program to enable this (Gentle Carousel) to perhaps move on state wide...This program benefits so many different population bases. You can reach the elderly, the terminally sick, children with developmental disabilities, children with needs in reading, there are just so many opportunities to reach so many people in need and it’s done through all volunteers.”
Lance Block, Chairman for the Governor's Commission on Disabilities: Benji, the canine movie star (and star of the film Benji Off The Leash!) flew from CaliforniaOcala, Florida to meet the mayor during the filming of a documentary about the horses and joined the horses at hospitals and nursing homes. See photos on our website of Magic working with Benji. and donated time to help Gentle Carousel. Benji even led Magic into City Hall in Ocala to meet the mayor during filming of a documentary about the horses and joined the horses at hospitals and nursing homes.
“It’s making a difference. They’re making a big difference. The big charities, the big animal charities, get too boggled up in making plans and doing reports and getting paperwork done...These people are the real deal. They’re down there in the trenches doing it.”
Joe Camp, film writer, producer, director, bestselling author of "The Soul of a Horse" and man behind the canine superstar Benji: Gentle Carousel's award winning Reading Is Magic program brings real horses inside classrooms and libraries to inspire young readers and "bring books to life". The horses in Gentle Carousel's Reading Is Magic program look like the horse characters in loved children's books. The program provides books, coloring pages, bookmarks, certificates, posters, family reading lists, lesson plan materials and programs with the horses. Reading Is Magic is designed to encourage children and their parents to read together, teachers to read to their students and children to read their own books.
Reading Is Magic has a special focus on struggling or at risk readers. Poor readers are at increased risk for dropping out of school, substance abuse, delinquency and poverty. Many of the children in the program have never touched a real horse before and learn lessons in kindness as well as reading.