Cross-posted from the Gainesville Sun
WRITTEN BY CINDY SWIRKO
Survivors of the Connecticut shootings are hoping a tiny black horse can work her magic again.
Magic is the name of one of several equines from Gainesville’s Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses that will be traveling to Connecticut at the request of organizations there to help soothe the emotional pain and fear that some in Newtown are feeling after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, said Debbie Garcia-Bengochea who, with her husband Jorge, founded and operates Gentle Carousel.
“There are some significant things that we are going to be doing. We know we are going to be working with children, families and first responders,” Garcia said. “We do a lot of work with at-risk children and in schools and reading programs at libraries, so the horses are kind of a match for this situation.”
Gentle Carousel is an all-volunteer nonprofit charity. The teams of horses and volunteers work with more than 18,000 adults and children yearly at hospitals, hospice programs, assisted living programs, schools and libraries primarily in Alachua and Marion counties, Garcia said.
Four horses will go to Newtown this week, including Magic, a black mare with blue eyes who has won honors for her work from Time magazine, AARP and other organizations, Garcia said.
In one case, for instance, a woman in a nursing home who had not spoken in years started laughing and speaking when Magic laid her head in the woman’s lap.
“Magic has been in the right place at the right time for a lot of different situations,” Garcia said. “She is well-known internationally, so they requested that she come on this trip.”
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