Frequently Asked Questions
Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses?
Carousel Inc. is an all volunteer 501(c)(3) non profit public charity. There are no paid staff positions. An amazing team of
volunteers assist during therapy horse visits, education
programs and help train and care for these special horses.
From the board of directors to photography to website work to fundraising, Gentle
Carousel is an all volunteer program.
Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses visited over 18,000
adults and children each year thanks to the work of
We receive requests daily for
individual hospital and hospice visits for both children and
adults. Gentle Carousel depends on private and
corporate donations to help pay for horse therapy visits and
more: How To
Help Gentle Carousel
Happens On A Gentle Carousel Visit?
visit is different! Gentle
Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses work inside
hospitals, assisted care programs, programs
for Alzheimer's patients, group homes and with patients in hospice
also work with adults and children with disabilities and at risk
and abused children.
very tiny miniature horses bring their special
love where it is needed most and make memories everyday.
Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses grant wishes,
inspire laughter and bring a little magic into the world.
We adjust the time and activities
to the individual needs of the participants.
From a magical tea party for a child with a life
ending illness to working as part of the treatment process
inside a school for autistic children, the goal of Gentle
Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses is to provide a one of a
loving blue eyed Gentle
Carousel Miniature Therapy Horse arrives it has been
bathed, groomed and has shiny polished feet and "fairy dust"
sparkles. Many times the horses wear beautiful
costumes. Just before they enter a room
with a child,
a poem called "Magic Horses" is read. It is about
horses with blue eyes and fairy dust who make memories that
We like to leave a stuffed toy horse that
looks like the real one on each bed. If
Gentle Carousel participants would like photographs taken
with our horses we make sure there is a photographer
Magic Horses Poem
help me start my own therapy program? Will you give me some
of your trained therapy horses? Can you help me set up a
We receive many emails and calls every day
and cannot even start to answer each one. It is not
that we don't want to be helpful, it is that there are only
so many hours in a day and Gentle Carousel is an all
volunteer program. Our #1 priority must be meeting the
needs of adults and children in hospitals, assisted living
programs and hospice.
are the answers to some of the most common questions we
receive from people who want to start a therapy program.
you help me with legal issues...how to start a therapy
program, how to file for a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, insurance
questions, tax questions?
We cannot give legal advice. We get our own advice
from the attorneys and accountants that we hire and work
with therapy horses is a wonderful experience, but just because someone has a miniature horse does
not mean that they have a horse that should come indoors!
Taking a horse indoors that has not been properly trained
(even a miniature horse) to visit children or
the elderly is not responsible in our opinion. Take
your time to set up your program and make sure your
legal and insurance questions are answered by professionals.
looking for employment. Are you hiring?
Carousel is an
all volunteer program
so there are no paid employment opportunities.
starting a therapy program with horses a good way to make
money? How much money do you make?
makes money at Gentle Carousel. It is an all volunteer
program and no one is paid a salary... but our founders and
volunteers sure spend money. From costumes to
gasoline, vet costs to photography, everyone gives to help
make magic happen for thousands of adults and children each
year. We think every smile is worth the cost.
give me some of your trained therapy horses because I want
to start my own nonprofit?
trained therapy horses are
all privately owned and loved. We do not give them
away or sell them. It can take several years to
complete the level of training we expect from our horses...
and more hours of work than anyone can count. They are
not just horses to us, they are therapy partners and special
like to join you on one of your therapy horse visits with my
own horse (dog, cat). Can we come along?
therapy horses are insured and we know what to expect from
them. We do not take animals on visits that we have
not personally trained.
join you on your therapy horse appearances so I can
sell/promote my new book?
We get dozens of emails and calls from people who
would like to sell something at Gentle Carousel appearances.
We cannot help promote your book or other items for sale.
I would like to buy Magic
(Aladdin, Rainbow, Peanut)? Name your price!
priceless and absolutely not for sale.
insure my horses? Can you send me money to start my program?
I would like to start a therapy program and call it Gentle
Carousel. Is that OK? I would like your trainers to
train my horses. I would like your trainers to evaluate my
horses. I would like to partner with Gentle Carousel.
Carousel is a trademarked name. It is not available
for your therapy program. We cannot provide money for
your therapy program or insure horses that do not work in
our program. We are not ready to take other programs
under our wing right now... but you never know what the
future may hold.
Can I use photos from your
therapy horse website?
photographers' photos cannot be used without their
don't know me but I would like to drop by and look around
your farm. Is that OK?
Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses live and train on
several private farms. We have allowed national media to
visit for magazine photo shoots and television shows but for
security reasons our farms are no longer open to the general
dwarf horse. Would you like to buy it for your
of our therapy
horses are only 23-26 inches tall
are even smaller.
very small but are healthy and normal in
miniature horse breeders have seen them up close
and do not find dwarf characteristics.
is a concern within the miniature horse world.
Dwarf horses, while often setting world records for
size, are not considered to have desirable traits,
generally have incorrect
and may have significant health and soundness
The life expectancy of a dwarf horse is usually much
shorter than a normal miniature horse depending on
the severity of the horse’s dwarf characteristics.
While all horses deserve love and the best life possible, our
therapy horses need to be able to walk up and down stairs, move on
different floor surfaces and easily work around hospital equipment.
We do not use dwarf horses in our program.
How are Gentle
Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses trained?
all of the skills needed to become a therapy horse takes at least two
years and there is always something new to learn. Our
training program is challenging for both horses and
handlers. We never force our horses to do anything.
They are treated with kindness and respect and choose to
work with us and have a relationship with us.
thing we always keep in mind is that therapy horses are not
therapy dogs. They are flight animals and they are herd animals.
They learn to trust and count on their handler like a "herd
leader". When working inside they need to be allowed
to raise, lower or tilt their head to better judge distances
or areas of high contrast. They are happier
traveling and working with a favorite horse companion.
In other words, they may be small horses but they are horses
in every way.
therapy horses work inside private homes as well as in public
programs. They walk up and down
stairs, ride in elevators, walk on unusual floor surfaces,
work near other animals
and move around hospital equipment. They also learn to
let their handler know when they need to go outside for a
bathroom break. They have even
traveled on airplanes and worked in busy television and
radio studios. Therapy horses must be calm in
challenging situations and trust their handlers
completely when something unexpected happens.
trained Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horse is walked
into City Hall by canine movie star Benji during the filming
of a documentary about our therapy program.
Becoming a Therapy Horse
do Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses come from?
very difficult to become a Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy
chosen for their beauty, very small size (much smaller than
most miniature horses!), exceptional temperament,
intelligence and desire to spend time with people. We
also look for flashy patterns and bright blue eyes. Most start their training at birth or at a very young age.
Horses selected for Gentle
Carousel's Reading Is
Magic program must look exactly like the characters in
popular children's books and have the same qualities as a
therapy horse (many work in both programs).
We have searched
for horses from one
side of the country to the other for this award winning program. Brighty and Splash are from
California, Circus is from Texas, Flame is from Georgia,
Feather is from Montana...you get the idea. It is very
difficult to find the perfect match for a book and the perfect personality in one horse.
therapy horse or Reading Is Magic horse has their own
webpage so you can learn more about the special members of
more about individual horses at:
What is Gentle
Carousel's Reading Is Magic program?
The horses in Gentle Carousel's
program look like the horse characters in loved children's books.
A real horse inside a library or classroom is always a
Gentle Carousel with the help of "Magic" and
friends bring real horses inside classrooms and libraries to
inspire young readers.
Gentle Carousel's Reading
Is Magic program provides
books, coloring pages,
bookmarks, certificates, posters, lesson plan materials, family
lists, author book signings and book readings with our horses
to preschools, elementary schools, at risk youth programs and libraries.
Gentle Carousel's Reading Is Magic program encourages children and their parents to
read together, teachers to read to their students and children to be
inspired to read their own books.
Reading Is Magic
has a special focus on struggling or at risk readers. Poor readers are
at increased risk for dropping out of school, substance abuse,
delinquency and poverty.
Thousands of children attend Reading Is Magic summer library programs
shows that children who do not continue reading through the
summer can lose a month or more of progress made during the
Reading Is Magic
therapy horses boys or girls?
Most of our therapy horses are geldings (male). We do
have some amazing mares (female) who work as therapy horses
including Magic, Peanut, Feather, Illusion and Wakanda
(above). There are also some wonderful mares who are
part of Gentle Carousel's Reading Is Magic program.
is a very tiny therapy horse. He was only 14 inches
tall at birth but is healthy and perfect in every way.
He has appeared in a children's book, national magazines and
has his own Facebook page.
Horses In The World
Sundance stars in the
popular children's novel JASON AND ELIHU,
A FISHERMAN'S STORY
by best selling author Shelley Fraser Mickle. Sundance
personal appearances to support child abuse prevention
Several photos of Sundance appear in the book. Sundance's outgoing
personality was captured in the story including his love of peppermints
and his talent for smiling.
Sundance reading at the Boys and Girls Club with former NFL and
University of Florida quarterback Doug Johnson for an Associated
honor and thrill to have Sundance as a riveting character in
JASON AND ELIHU. -Shelley Fraser Mickle
small are Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses?
has some of the smallest miniature horses in the world.
Most are only 23-27 inches tall but some are even smaller.
While a larger, more
powerful horse (even a normal size miniature horse) may seem very daunting to a young child, an
elderly person or someone with a disability, an instant bond
seems to form with our very tiny blue eyed therapy horses.
Rainbow was only 14 inches
tall at birth.
little girl Peanut (above) was only 13.5 inches at birth.
Horses In The World
eligible for a Gentle Carousel visit?
improve our quality of life. If you
know someone who would be encouraged by a visit from one of
our special horses, please contact us.
real horses walk into a hospital room or bedroom it is always a magical
Why is Gentle
Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses is important because people are never too young or
too old to have a special wish granted or enjoy a special moment of love. Our tiny miniature horses provide
the beneficial and therapeutic effects of animal assisted
activities and animal assisted therapy. They enrich the lives of those
they work with. Some of the these benefits include:
verbal interactions and laughter between group members.
Better attention skills. Increased vocabulary.
Aid in long or short term memory.
Reduced anxiety. Reduced loneliness.
More willingness to be involved in a group activity.
Improved empathy and outward focus.
Better interactions with peers. Better interactions
with staff or teachers.
Increased exercise. Improved fine and gross motor
Mental stimulation. Improved academic skills.
Improved nurturing skills.
Safe, non-threatening physical contact.
Motivation. Hope. Feeling loved.
Magic is our goodwill
ambassador and most requested therapy horse. She has
appeared in newspapers and magazines around the world.
Magic was selected the Most Heroic Pet in America
Magic was named one of History's Ten Most
Heroic Animals by TIME Magazine / CNN
has been on television many times and even in radio stations.
She loves spending time with adults and children and
always seems to make a special connection.
Carousel Therapy Horses live indoors?
Gentle Carousel horses love to be with people, but they also
need time to relax and just be horses. When their
therapy vests come off they know that they are off duty.
are herd animals and need time to be with the other horses
that they trust. They do not like to be alone and they would
not be happy living indoors. When
they are off duty they are with their little herds and when
they come in at night they are always with a friend.
Home Sweet Home
Where can I see a Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horse?
contact Gentle Carousel and ask to come over for a visit.
Unlike a program where people go to horses to ride, Gentle
Carousel takes horses to people.
the children and adults we visit cannot even go outside.
Because we go inside hospitals, hospice programs, assisted living programs and work with abused and
special needs children most of our Gentle Carousel visits are
Our horses do
take part in special events during the year that are open to the
public schedule at:
Would You Like To Meet Our Horses?
Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses insured?
Gentle Carousel's horses are insured for all visits and
programs. Safety is our top priority and that is why
we are so careful with the selection and training of our
How can I
help Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses
Keeping an all volunteer 501(c)(3) non-profit charity like Gentle
Carousel funded each month is always a challenge.
We grant as many wishes and work with as many
people as possible. With your support we can
continue and do even more.
Consider giving a gift in the honor or memory of a friend,
family member or beloved pet.
an individual horse like "Whistle" (above) or one of our other
therapy horses. Ask if your friends, your work
place or an organization that you belong to if they would
like to sponsor a Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horse
or a Gentle Carousel program.
Help Gentle Carousel
have a wish list and volunteer opportunities.
Carousel Therapy Horses is a 501(c)(3)
donations are tax deductible.
something about the outside of a horse that is good for the
inside of a man." ~Winston Churchill
Gainesville, FL 32635