You know all the cute pictures of miniature horses with children and people in hospitals that I post on my Children 4 Horses Facebook page? Well, my friends at Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses are going to be bringing their special minis to Newtown, CT to help the town heal. The miniature horses go through training for two years so they can be therapy horses and they are just amazing. I know for sure that both the children and adults will feel the love and healing these special little horses will be sharing with them. Please help them get to Newtown. ~Declan
We'll have a role in the healing
|Debbie Garcia-Bengochea watches as Travis Jaffe plants a kiss on Magic, of Gentle Carousel Miniature Horses. FILE|
By DEREK GILLIAM
Published: Wednesday, December 19, 2012 6:05 AM EST As posted on LakeCityReporter.com
Sometimes all it takes is a little distraction, and then the healing can start.
A local nonprofit organization, Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses, plans to take its horses on the road, in hopes of putting smiles on the faces of the broken-hearted survivors of the tragedy in Newtown, Conn.
Debbie Garcia-Bengochea, owner of Gentle Carousel with her husband Jorge, said a family of one of the victims contacted her about taking their horses there.
She said she plans to go.
“You can’t take some of the conversations we’ve had with these families and not go,” she said. “We were surprised to get the call, but some things you just don’t say no to.”
Before the school shooting, a private school in Connecticut had sent a donation to the organization.
She said those funds will go toward the cost of the trip.
Her goal is to leave at the end of next week after all the media attention dies down and the funerals are over.
Gentle Carousel has an all-volunteer staff, and they plan on taking five volunteers. Garcia-Bengochea will be one of the five.
She said that Magic, the most famous therapy horse on the farm, will go. Aladdin and Hamlet, two of the other horses, also will travel to Connecticut.
The organization doesn’t have the equipment or the funds to make the trip. Although Gentle Carousel has horse trailers for short trips, the long trip, combined with the frigid temperatures, has Garcia-Bengochea looking for a van and some gas cards to transport three or four of the little horses. On Monday, the Lake City City Council donated $500 to the organization.
Magic the Miniature Mare was named one of the top 10 heroic animals by Time magazine in 2011. She seems to always know where she’s needed, Garcia-Bengochea said.
One time, Magic went to visit an assisted-living facility. One of the patients who lived there hadn’t spoken in three years.
“Isn’t she beautiful?” the woman said.
Those words caused the staff to break out in tears, according to the article in Time in March 2011.
“She’s talked ever since that day,” Garcia-Bengochea said.
Another time, the horse singled out a child in a group and walked up to him. The horse pushed its nose into his face and the two stood locked head to head. The child had just found out that day his cancer had returned.
The volunteers for Gentle Carousel reminded him that the magic show was about to start.
“He said, ‘I’m having my magic show right here,’” Garcia-Bengochea said.
Cheryll Walker, executive director of Happy House, said Gentle Carousel has visited the day care center in the past.
She said two horses were dressed up in costumes.
While one of the volunteers read a story, the horses pranced around and acted out the scenes.
“It was very, very sweet,” Walker said.
She said it was especially moving for one of the children at the day care to see the miniature horses. That child had dwarfism.
Walker said the horses have a special effect on the shy children and the children with special needs.
“They light up the most,” she said.
While the therapy horses sometimes visit healthy children at libraries and day care centers, the real reason for the two years of training for each horse is to help the terminally ill and dying make one last happy memory.
“We’ve met so many children who aren’t alive today, but for that moment they were happy,” she said. “When you see the faces and you see the differences, to be able to give someone that makes it worth it.”