April 5, 2011- UPDATE
On March 21, 2011 TIME /CNN published a list of History's 10 Most Courageous Animals."
"Animals have often shown bravery in extraordinary circumstances. TIME takes a look at some of history's most courageous animals."
The Top 10 Heroic Animals included Bucephalus, the famed steed of Alexander the Great, Togo the sled dog who brought serum to save Nome when diphtheria broke out in 1925, Stubby the WW1 hero war dog who became a lifetime member of the American Legion and later became Georgetown University's mascot, Simon the British cat known for his heroic voyage down China's Yangtze River (her obituary appeared in TIME magazine in 1949), a heroic dog in Japan, Cher Ami, a pigeon that flew messages in France during World War I, leading to the rescue of 194 soldiers in Major Charles Whittlesey?s ?Lost Battalion?, New Zealand's Moko the dolphin and a miniature therapy horse named Magic from Florida.
May 24, 2010?-Strebors Black Magic On Demand, a Miniature Horse registered with the American Miniature Horse Registry (AMHR), is spreading a special form of magic as a therapy horse. Known to her many fans as Magic, the black mini with blue eyes was recently named the ?Most Heroic Pet in America? by the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons).
Magic, owned by Debbie and Jorge Garcia-Bengochea of Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses in High Springs, Florida, was featured in the 2010 May/June issue of AARP Magazine for her heroic efforts as a therapy mini. ?I am so proud of her,? Debbie Garcia-Bengochea said. ?She has worked with over 4,000 people, but the story that helped her win the ?Most Heroic Pet? title has to do with a woman who hadn?t talked in three years.?
Garcia-Bengochea said that in September of 2009, a reporter from the Ocala Star-Banner newspaper was taking photos of a Gentle Carousel visit at an assisted care facility. ?A woman who had not spoken since she arrived at the assisted care facility three years earlier began talking to Magic. ?Isn't she beautiful? were her first words and then ?It's a horse?," Garcia-Bengochea said. ?The activities director began to cry and told the woman she loved her.?
Garcia-Bengochea went on to explain that the woman answered "I love you too" ? her first words spoken to another person in all those years. ?Before Magic left the woman asked, ?Will she come back again?? The woman has continued to talk since that visit with Magic,? Garcia-Bengochea said. ?AARP used this event, and the story and photos the Ocala Star-Banner published, to select Magic as the Most Heroic Pet in America.?
Magic isn?t the only Miniature Horse owned by Gentle Carousel that is working their magic everywhere from nursing homes to hospitals all across North Florida. ?We have 26 minis in our program, which is a non-profit volunteer program,? Garcia-Bengochea said. ?Our minis have sparkles in their coats and look amazing when they do their visits. We love minis and it's a great way to have them in the community.?
Garcia-Bengochea said the story of Magic being named the ?Most Heroic Pet In America? has been picked up by news outlets in Argentina, Korea, New Zealand, Holland and Thailand, just to name a few. ?Magic has been with people when they passed away and when they have awoken from a coma,? Garcia-Bengochea said. ?Magic is requested so often that she actually has an understudy.?
The tiny black mini with blue eyes certainly seems happy to be representing the American Miniature Horse Registry, introducing people each day to the remarkable breed. ?We can't cure the many diseases out there, but we do bring magic into the lives of sick people,? Garcia-Bengochea said.
For more information on this story and others go to the?Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses site,? www.horse-therapy.org.