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Tiny horse teaches Duluth students big lesson about animal care

Clarissa Pederson gets close to Magic, a miniature horse, during a presentation at the Montessori School of Duluth.

What do you call a tiny horse standing in the middle of a Duluth classroom?

Magic.

Standing about 3 feet tall with long chestnut hair, a miniature horse named Magic visited the Montessori School of Duluth on Friday afternoon to teach students about the proper treatment of animals.

"Remember to be kind to Magic and speak softly; you can pet all you want, but don't poke," Paula Moore said to students as they lined up to touch the horse.

Moore, education outreach coordinator for the Windchill Legacy Foundation, was responsible for bringing Magic into the school.

The new nonprofit organization's mission is to prevent the kind of abuse that led to the death of Windchill, a 9-month-old colt that died last winter after weeks of neglect in extremely low temperatures at a South Range farm. Volunteers who discovered the emaciated horse took him in and tried to nurse him back to health. Windchill lived for another 20 days.

"After witnessing Windchill's will to live and incredible spirit, we just decided we wanted to do something to make sure that kind of thing never happens again," Moore said.

To ensure that, the organization is sharing Windchill's story with area students and teaching them how to properly care for animals. The Montessori School of Duluth is the second school Moore has visited in the Twin Ports area.

Leading kids through a Power Point presentation complete with pictures of Windchill, Moore talked about the basic needs all animals share: food, water, shelter and love.

"We are hoping we can start at the root of the problem by spreading our message to kids," Moore said. "If they learn how to treat their pets properly when they're young, then they will carry that message on for their lifetime and hopefully spread the word."

The highlight of the presentation happened at the end, when Jeff Tucker, the man who rescued Windchill, led Magic into the school.

Students squealed with delight as they watched the horse walk through the front door and then took turns petting and hugging Magic.

"This was the best day of my life," said Mia Sannes, a third-grader. "First I got every word on my spelling test right, and then I got to pet Windchill -- I mean, Magic. She was really soft."

Sebastian Woodward, a fourth-grader, described Magic as fuzzy.

"I've never met a horse that small; it's pretty cool that he came into our school," he said. Sebastian added that if he gets the pet tortoise he's hoping for, he knows a little more about how to take care of him. "I am going to give him lots of love and care."

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