Miniature therapy horse to make appearance in Tryon

Published 11:18 am Friday, September 29, 2023

Award-winning ‘Horse Hero’ set to attend TRIFF event


TRYON—Magic, a miniature horse and the star of a documentary film, Hero Horse: A Magical True Story, will visit Tryon this week to celebrate the Tryon International Film Festival. The documentary that focuses on Magic’s story will be screening at the Upstairs Artspace on October 8 as part of TRIFF.

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Magic is specially trained to provide emotional support to people in need and is part of the nonprofit organization Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses. 

Gentle Carousel is one of the largest equine therapy programs in the world, its website says. Teams of tiny horses visit thousands of adults and children every year in hospitals and hospice programs. Veterans and first responders who have experienced traumatic events are comforted by the horses as part of the program, as well.

“Mini-horses can fit in an elevator or hospice room making them wonderful therapy animals,” Gentle Carousel’s education director Debbie Garcia-Bengochea says. “When Magic steps through the door no one is worrying about their treatment anymore.” 

Magic has been named by Time magazine as one of History’s Ten Most Heroic Animals and by AARP as the most Heroic Pet in America.

The tiny ‘Hero Horse’ has been called to comfort survivors and first responders of mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston and the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. She has also helped the survivors of tornados in Oklahoma and fires in Tennessee, as well as families in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

Additionally, Magic has visited thousands of patients in children’s and veterans hospitals across the country. She is a sworn police officer and works with children who have lost parents in the line of duty and Gold Star families. She has been honored with numerous awards, such as the Autistic Paws of Honor Award, the American Red Cross A Hero Among Us Outstanding Service Award, and the United States Equestrian Federation/Equus Foundation Horse Stars Hall of Fame. She has been featured on National Geographic CNN, and NBC News. 

Magic’s documentary was a 2023 Manhattan Film Festival Award Winner, and she even has a bronze plaque on the Walk of Champions. She was also invited to visit Congress in Washington, D.C., and received a police escort to the 9/11 Memorial in NYC. 

You might even see Magic wandering around town this week, and she will also be at the Tryon International Film Festival Gala in her tuxedo.