Gallery: Hero Horse: A Magical True Story Premiere

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Posted December 12, 2022 | Story by Susan Smiley-Height/
Photos By Bruce Ackerman/
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Ocala is the Horse Capital of the World for good reason—which was even more evident when a tiny therapy horse named Magic arrived at the Marion Theatre on the evening of Dec. 7 in a limousine and then walked the red carpet in a tuxedo in front of a throng of people.

The documentary film premiere of “Hero Horse: A Magical True Story” at the historic theater in downtown Ocala was a fundraiser to help support the Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses elementary school reading programs, which are organized in partnership with the Ocala Metro Chamber & Economic Partnership (CEP) and Marion County Public Schools.

The film made its premiere in Ocala before it heads out to film festivals in the coming year. The event, which drew hundreds of people, included a pre-show party and VIP options, including a meet and greet with the film star and a swag bag.

Magic was a little hesitant to take her star turn at first, but once she came out of the limo on a tiny ramp, she never missed a beat as she strutted through people crowding in for photos.

According to Debbie Garcia-Bengochea, the education director for Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses, “Magic’s friend Don, a 99-year-old World War II veteran who appears in the film, also had his turn on the red carpet. Don had ‘his posse’ with him, family members and friends from Trinity Springs senior living community. Don said he always wanted to be a star.”

Garcia-Bengochea said the film premiere could not have gone better.

“The response to the film was wonderful. There were lots of feel-good tears and everyone clapped along to the original song “Hero Horse” at the end of the movie as Magic entered the theater.”

Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses is an award-winning nonprofit that this year is celebrating 25 years of service.

“Our teams of tiny horses bring love to thousands of adults and children each year inside hospitals, hospice programs, assisted living programs, and with families, veterans and first responders who have experienced traumatic events,” Garcia-Bengochea said.

Magic was on the team called in to comfort survivors and first responders of the mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC and the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Garcia-Bengochea said.

“She helped the tornado survivors of Moore, OK, victims of the fires in Gatlinburg, TN, families in the aftermath of hurricanes, families and first responders after the condo collapse in Surfside and has visited thousands of patients in children’s and veterans’ hospitals across the country,” she added.

Magic has visited Congress in Washington, D.C., the Arlington National Cemetery and the 911 Memorial in NYC.

“She helped teach a class at Columbia Medical School, was invited to meet the twin baby pandas at Zoo Atlanta and has been on the concert stage in Nashville, Tennessee,” Garcia-Bengochea said.

On Wednesday in Ocala, Magic was most certainly the star of the show.

To learn more about Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses, visit and find them on Facebook and Instagram.


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