Horses Are the Best

image of an elderly woman who appears to be white squeezing a therapy mini horse's neck

I can't even deal with how ridiculously adorbz and generally awesome this is:
Gentle Carousel began nearly two decades ago, with a focus on bringing miniature horses to people who aren't mobile.

"People who were not able to travel but would also benefit from an equine experience," [Debbie Garcia-Bengochea, co-founder of Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses] said.

Garcia-Bengochea says her therapy horses are just like full-sized horses in terms of personality, preferences and intelligence.

What makes them especially well-suited for this line of work -- on top of careful breeding, and two years of intensive training -- is being so adorably wee.

"While a large horse can be intimidating to a small child or a fragile senior, the miniature horses were easier for them to trust and befriend," Garcia-Bengochea says.

...There's really no such thing as an ordinary day for Gentle Carousel's horses. They might be visiting hospitals or hospices, nursing homes or homeless shelters, libraries or homes to see someone who is housebound -- anywhere that people could use the kind of pick-me-up bestowed by a calm, empathetic, 2.5-foot tall, stuffed animal-like creature, whose very existence makes the world a happier place.

"These little horses bring their special love where it is needed most," says Garcia-Bengochea.
I absolutely adore horses, of any size, and I can totally appreciate how the miniature horses are less intimidating than their larger cousins for lots of folks, especially kids. This is just terrific. There is something incredibly powerful and calming, at least for me, about spending time with horses. Every chance I've ever had to hang out with, care for, ride, walk beside, or nuzzle the velvety muzzle of a horse, I've taken it, for literally as long as I can remember.

image of me as a toddler feeding a carrot to a brown and white horse

That's my wee diaper-sagged ass feeding carrots to Todie, our neighbor's horse. I was about thirteen months old in that photo, which was taken the summer of 1975.

My mom and I used to walk down to the pasture, which was maybe 100 yards from our house, and it always seemed like the longest walk in the world, because I couldn't wait to see Todie, and his small companion pony Princess. I loved them beyond words.

One of the privileges of growing up in an exurban area is access to animals, which not every kid in the city and suburbs has so easily (or at all). I love that therapy programs like this one, particularly when they also do visits at libraries, are not only providing much-needed therapeutic visits to people who (more evidently) need it, but also exposing more kids to animals with whom they might not get to interact otherwise.

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