Miniature Guide Horses

English: This is Scout, a miniature horse that...

This is Scout,  the miniature guide horse.  Note the sneakers which are often used because horseshoes tend to set off metal detectors at airports. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Little Horses with Large Responsibilities

Following on from the recent post on guide and service dogs, it is only fair to mention other service animals in the news – namely miniature guide horses. With a much longer life-span than dogs and the ability to be trained to do all the same work, plus having the strength to lend support to their owners in ways that guide dogs cannot, miniature horses are already recognized as service animals by federal regulations under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

According to The Guide Horse Foundation the ideal guide horse owner includes:

  •  Horse lovers - Blind people who have grown up with horses and understand equine behavior and care are ideal candidates.
  • Allergenic people – Many people who are severely allergic to traditional guide animals and find horses a non-allergenic alternative for mobility.
  • Mature Individuals – Many people report difficulty dealing with the grief of losing their animals, and  horses tend to live far longer than traditional guides.
  • Physically Disabled folks – Because of their docile nature, Guide Horses are easier to handle for individuals with physical disabilities. They are also strong enough to provide support, helping the handler to rise from their chair.
  • Dog Phobia – Individuals who fear dogs are often comfortable working with a tiny horse.
  • Outdoor Animal - Many individuals prefer a guide animal that does not have to live in the house when off duty.

It is also worth noting that in a guide horse is more appropriate as a service animal for those who cannot have a dog in the house for religious reasons as is the case with Mona and her guide horse, Cali.