Can you picture going to work every day with a miniature pony as your guide? Or maneuvering around a college campus or shopping mall?

This was new information to me. An article in our local paper alerted me to the phrase “service horse.”

New guidelines (April 2011) from the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) now allow miniature ponies to join dogs as authorized guide animals.

A guide animal’s job is to help their handler safely get where they are going. For example, they may help with accessing public transportation, going up and down stairs, shopping, and going to school.

Miniature horses are still horses. As such, they require a bit more care than a dog. A horse is a grazer by nature and tends to eat all day long. (I can relate to that one, can you?)

And if they’re eating, well, they need to eliminate all that food many times during the day. I’m told that miniature horses can be housetrained.

Not exactly sure what that looks like, but it would be one humongous litter box!

According to Karen Malcor-Chapman, who owns the Honey Pony Ranch and was interviewed in the newspaper article, even the smallest pony needs room to run and a stall that is at least 8×10.

That could present a challenge for apartment dwellers!

Why Horses?

Some people are allergic to dogs. Others have religious restrictions that prevent them from using dogs as guides.

Horses are strong, typically live much longer than dogs, are smart, have good memories, and can be affectionate and loyal.

For more information and some really sweet photos, check out The Guide Horse Foundation website.

Okay readers, whaddya think?

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