A Tiny Horse Walks Into Your Hospital Room

by David Sung

The Unexpected Visits That Create Lasting Memories

Winston Churchill said, “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.” He was onto something that’s difficult to put into words -- those large knowing eyes, the gentle breathing and soft muzzle, all combined with a spirited exuberance that screams freedom. Freedom from the worries that seem to plague us mere humans.

Horses aren’t judgmental and have no preconceived notions about a person. Rather, they are known to mirror human body language, quietly telling you about yourself. Yes, a horse’s company is something very special, and some might even say magical.

It’s that magic that inspires Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses to visit the people who need it most – people in hospitals and hospice programs, as well as people who have experienced some form of trauma. The recent school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. The vicious tornado in Moore, OK. Gentle Carousel was there, spreading hope and joy through the quiet understanding presence of their miniature horses.

Many times, Gentle Carousel quite literally brings Magic on their visits. Magic, named one of history’s 10 Most Heroic Animals by TIME Magazine, is a black and white mini with clear blue eyes. She has traveled all around the country, and is affectionately called “the Hero Horse” for all her good work. She is revered for her patient attention at schools and libraries, where children wait in line by the hundreds to get a few precious moments with her. And Magic doesn’t disappoint:

“A boy losing his sight because of a brain tumor held Magic close to his face so he could always remember what she looked like. “It is like she can see inside my soul,” he told his mother.” 1

An experience like that for a child battling illness is not only magical, but priceless. It’s that kind of story that prompted Cash Store to contribute to Gentle Carousel and sponsor a therapy horse of our own.

Takoda, a sweet male mini that is mostly white with dark tan markings and the cutest fuzzy mane and tail, is already in training at less than a year old. After at least two years in basic training, he will go on to work with children who are hospitalized as well as participate in Gentle Carousel’s Reading is Magic Literacy program. The program brings mini horses like Takoda to schools, at-risk youth programs, and libraries, where they inspire young readers and bring books to life. With an upturned mouth that appears to be constantly smiling and a name that is a Native American word meaning “friend to everyone,” it seems this little guy was made for the brave work of his future.

We are so happy to contribute to such a wonderful organization. It’s important to note that therapy horses have the benefit of a longer lifespan than a dog or cat, extending their training to up to 30 years and thousands more smiles.

Gentle Carousel not only has amazing equine heroes, but it is a 100% all-volunteer, non-profit charity. And let’s be honest – that’s a rarity! So we know our donation will go solely to the cause and the horses, helping them continue to spread their magic. Now I leave you with a final story about Gentle Carousel’s Mozart, a stunning charcoal mini with a bright white blaze down the middle of his face:

“When Mozart met Joseph [a child suffering from Pompe disease, a rare inherited neuromuscular disorder that causes progressive muscle weakness] he behaved like he already knew him. He walked over on his own and gently put his head in the young man’s lap. After a few minutes together, Mozart just closed his eyes, ignoring everything going on around them. He refused to move away from Joseph, something he had never done before. He stayed with his head resting on Joseph’s leg for more than half an hour. When it was time for the young man to return to his room, Mozart walked alongside of him, next to his wheelchair.” 1

Learn more and see many great pictures on the Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horse website. If you’re so inclined, you can also donate, sponsor a horse, or simply help raise awareness about this wonderful organization.

- Lindsey Blackburn  


Footnote: 1Garcia-Bengochea, Debbie. The Power of Magic: Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses. Ontario: DT Group, 2014. Print.

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