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By Debbie Garcia-Bengochea, Education Director, Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses
The Animal Law Section will be honoring little therapy horse, Magic, with the Rikki Mitchell Animal Achievement Award on June 23, 2023, at The Florida Bar Annual Convention at The Boca Raton in Boca Raton, Florida. Rikki Mitchell was a golden retriever who worked as a therapy dog in hospital and courtroom settings.
Magic was on the team called in to comfort survivors and first responders immediately after the mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut; at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina; and at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. She also helped young tornado survivors of Moore, Oklahoma, who had been trapped in their schools; victims of fires in Gatlinburg, Tennessee; families in the aftermath of hurricanes; and families and first responders after the condominium collapse in Surfside, Florida.
In the medical setting, Magic has visited thousands of patients in children’s and veterans’ hospitals across the country. She works with medical professionals in oncology units and intensive care units, and with occupational, speech, and physical therapists as part of the treatment for patients who have suffered strokes, traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries, amputations, and burns.
Working indoors would be a challenge for any horse, but Magic makes it look easy, even in high-rise hospital buildings, hotels, and television stations. She walks up and down steps, rides in elevators, walks on unusual floor surfaces, carefully moves around hospital and television studio equipment, works in small hospital rooms, and stays calm around unexpected sounds like ambulances, alarms, and hospital helicopters. And, yes, she is house trained.
Magic has visited Congress in Washington, D.C., Arlington National Cemetery, and the 911 Memorial in New York City. She helped teach a class at Columbia Medical School and has been on the concert stage in Nashville, Tennessee. Magic even “danced” in The Magic of the Nutcracker on stage with the Dance Alive National Ballet in a special performance for children from the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind.
Magic, also known as Officer Magic, is an official police officer with the Ocala Police Department. She was sworn in by the chief of police and wears her uniform scrim when she is on duty. Officer Magic has attended Police Week in Washington, D.C., comforted children who have lost a parent in the line of duty, encourages her fellow officers and staff (including 9-1-1 operators), and helps with community outreach programs in schools.
Magic was selected as one of “History’s 10 Most Courageous Animals” by TIME magazine, as the “Most Heroic Pet in America” by AARP, and as a “Power of One Hero” by Reader’s Digest. She received the American Red Cross “A Hero Among Us” Outstanding Service Award, the E.T. York Distinguished Service Award, the
Haven Hospice “Volunteer of the Year” Service Award, the Shining World Award, the Ronald McDonald House “Caring and Sharing” Award, and was the Florida Veterinary Medical Association “Pet Hero of the Year.” Magic is in the American Veterinary Medical Association Hall of Fame and the United States Equestrian Federation/Equus Foundation Horse Stars Hall of Fame. She received a Certificate of Senate Recognition, with a flag flown over U.S. Capitol in her honor, and a bronze plaque on the Walk of Champions. Magic has been featured in many books, including The Book of Heroes by National Geographic, Animal Superheroes by Scholastic Books, Heroic Animals by Hodder & Stoughton Publishers UK, and Mini Horse, Mighty Hope by Revell Publishing. She was filmed by Facebook for Facebook Stories and is a Breyer Portrait Model Horse.
A documentary film about Magic called Hero Horse: A Magical True Story premiered in December. Magic arrived to the premiere in a limousine to walk the red carpet in her tuxedo. The film is now an official selection at The Manhattan Film Festival in New York City, where Magic will walk the red carpet again in June before attending The Florida Bar Annual Convention.
Magic is a member of Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses, a multiple award-winning 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity based in Ocala, Florida, celebrating twenty-six years of service in 2023. The team of Gentle Carousel horses bring their special love to thousands of adults and children each year. Individual therapy horses, including Magic, work no more than two days a week and live a very natural life with their equine companions in a lifelong herd.
Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses