guide horse

Photo courtesy of the Guide Horse Foundation

Frank Chimero blogged about his surprise at seeing a horse in the Apple store. Amazingly, miniature horses really can serve as guide animals to the disabled. There are even legitimate reasons to have a guide horse over a guide dog:

  • For people who are allergic to dogs
  • For those who have a fear of dogs
  • If a longer-lived guide animal is desired
  • If someone is already familiar with handling horses

In 2010, the Americans with Disabilities Act revised regulations to include horses as guide animals provided they meet certain regulations, such as whether the guide horse is housebroken. It turns out there may be more advantages to a guide horse over a guide dog: 

  • Horses have nearly 350-degree vision
  • Horses may be better accepted in public because guide dogs could be viewed as pets
  • Guide horses may have better endurance than guide dogs when walking long distances
  • Horses have a great memory for avoiding dangerous situations, which I would guess is related to the fact that they’re prey animals

A guide horse and his owner getting ready to board a plane. Photo by DanDee Shots

There is some opposition to the idea of using horses as guide animals. The main arguments are that horses have a fight-or-flight instinct that could put their owners in danger; guide horses are harder to transport and require a larger vehicle; it’s harder for a horse to climb steps; and they require their owner to have a backyard to meet a horse’s needs for space and fresh air.

Vox reported on Mona Ramouni, who travels with her miniature horse on airplanes. Below is a video about Mona’s relationship with her guide horse, Cali.