According to the American Quarter Horse Foundation Quarterly, a very special horse is helping some very special children.
At first, “Magic” sounded perfect. The bay American Quarter Horse gelding had done it all: He had jumped, been a pony horse at a polo barn, showed dressage, been trail ridden and had the classic Quarter Horse temperament.
That’s how his owner, Jody Lynn McBrien, described him to Gail Clifton of the Sarasota-Manatee Association for Riding Therapy (SMART) in Bradenton, Florida, hoping to donate him to the therapeutic riding program.
“And then Jody said, ‘Well, I need to tell you the rest of the story,’ Gail recalls with a smile. “‘He’s blind. … He has no eyeballs.’”
Magic had suffered from chronic uveitis since the age of 3, when Jody bought him. Around age 5, he lost the sight in one of his eyes and a year later he went completely blind. Jody had his eyes removed because they were painful, but continued riding and showing him.
Magic's blindness helps autistic children, who often avoid eye contact, feel at ease around the horses at the Sarasota-Manatee Association for Riding Therapy therapeutic riding program.