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Gainesville Miniature Horses Comfort Patients

To many, magic is something reserved for fairy tales and children’s movies. For surgical rehab patient Gaye Roberson Jackson, however, magic is something much more tangible.

“I'm like, ‘put Magic's head right here, right here,’” Jackson said. “That may be psychological, but when Magic put her head right here, it was like the pain is gone now.”

Magic is a tiny horse and a member of a team with one goal in mind: comforting those in need. The Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses provide support to patients in hospitals, as well as the trauma survivors.

“We just saw the effect of this and the calming effect of the horses with young children but also with the elderly,” said Gentle Carousel owner George Garcia-Bengochea. “We seem to get more and more requests to do work with patients or with families who have been in traumatic events.”

The tiny horses of Gentle Carousel have visited those involved in some of the nation’s biggest tragedies, including the survivors of Sandy Hook, Newton, CT, and the Pulse nightclub shootings. They sometimes trot through the halls of local hospitals in Gainesville, such as UF Health Shands Hospital.

"It takes your mind off your pain if you have any and I just think it's wonderful,” said Dorothy Cook, a surgical rehab patient. “It’s the best thing that's ever happened.”

Magic, one of Gentle Carousel’s 19 mini therapy horses, is the team’s most famous equine. Magic has been featured on the Today Show, named the Most Heroic Pet in America by the AARP and has an action figure in select stores. Keo Fox, an equine masseuse, said that Magic’s work is admirable.

“She’s one of my heroes,” Fox said. “I call her the wonder woman of miniature horses because she's a little girl in my heart.”

Eric Heubusch is a reporter at WUFT News in Gainesville, Florida. He is a senior at the University of Florida majoring in journalism.
Alexa is a reporter for WUFT News and can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.