The Therapy Miniature Horse With a Magic Touch

Gentle Carousel Miniature Horse Therapy has a menagerie of animals that provide comfort to those in need all over the country. But none cast a spell quite like Magic.

Editor’s Note: America’s Best Pet Pals is a nationwide search for the animal friendships that make you laugh, cry, and purr. Reader’s Digest will be honoring the best in pet friendship in print, online, and on social media. This is a finalist in our “Lifesavers” category. Scroll to the bottom to cast your vote for Magic. To see our full list of finalists, go to rd.com/petpals and vote in each category.

When the wee group of miniature horses enter the room, it’s Magic, queen of the herd, who always seems to find the person who needs her most. The room on this day is in a Florida assisted living facility and is full of residents, staff, family, and even a local news photographer. Magic wanders over and rests her head in the lap of one resident who begins talking to her: “Isn’t she beautiful?” the woman says. The activities director begins to cry. It turns out the resident hadn’t spoken a word since she arrived three years ago.

That’s the Magic touch—and our 14-year-old therapy miniature horse has nuzzled the hearts of many. She’s been called in to comfort survivors of tragedy and natural disaster, as well as patients and residents at hospitals and assisted living facilities, where she’s an especially huge hit. Often our little black pony comes home with pink and red stains on her white nose from being kissed by all the ladies.

Magic has a very special relationship with children in hospital care, too. One little girl who had a heart transplant and leukemia said Magic made her face hurt from smiling so much. A boy who was losing his sight held Magic close to his face so he could always remember what she looked like. “It’s like she can see inside my soul,” he told his mother.

Magic also regularly comes to the rescue in the most trying of circumstances. When the Sandy Hook school shooting happened in Connecticut, Magic got a call the same day. The librarian at the local library anticipated just a few families would be in attendance to meet Magic. The next day, 600 people showed up. It was the first time most of the kids got to see each other since the tragedy. The librarian described it as the beginning of healing for the community.

child standing and holding the reins with Magic, the therapy miniature horseCourtesy Jorge Garcia

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After visiting families affected by the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Magic and the rest of the horses were called back in to meet the medical examiners. They were sitting on the floor in their white jackets, just hugging ponies. Magic rested her head on one examiner’s shoulder, and he just laughed and laughed, exclaiming, “Are you guys seeing this!?” Before leaving, the medical examiners told us, “We got the governor, but we wanted the ponies.”

To work indoors, all the miniature horses have to go through basic training, but Magic is a seasoned pro: riding elevators, taking stairs, maneuvering hospital equipment, and staying calm around sirens and loud noises. She loves meeting new people and cheering everyone up. The song “Do You Believe in Magic” is often played before bringing her in. She knows exactly what that means. She perks up her ears and she does a little prance for everyone.

At one assisted living facility, a woman who hadn’t left her room in six months was waiting in the lobby bright and early the morning Magic was scheduled to visit, holding a black and white photo of herself as a child sitting on a pony. At another, one woman’s family contacted the facility to alert them that she’d taken a turn for the worse: She’d just called and said there was a tiny horse in her room. They were relieved to learn she was having a spell all right—but not the hallucinatory kind. The Magic kind.

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