I’m amazed at how smart and wonderful horses of all sizes are to us. People have been helped by these great creatures throughout history and today the smallest breeds continue the tradition by helping assist the blind in the same way dogs are used. Miniature horses are officially approved by federal guidelines to be used as guide animals as stated in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The average weight of minis is around 50-100 pounds, they can live in your home and are allowed to go just about anywhere their owner wants to go. The Guide Horse Foundation is a great organization that has a ton of information as well as ways all of us can help out. They point out some key advantages to using Miniature horses to assist the blind:
• Guide minis are very clean and can be housebroken, they do not get fleas and only shed twice per year.
• Miniature horses have the advantage of living much longer lives and can assist for about 20 years while dogs might be of service for only 6 years.
• With the right training and desensitization, horses stay calm in chaotic situations, and they remember danger for decades due to their phenomenal memory.
• Horses have excellent vision, their independent eye movement can track potential danger with each eye, plus they can see clearly in almost total darkness.
• Trained horses are very focused, not easily distracted or addicted to human attention so they don’t get excited when petted or groomed.
• Horses are naturally safety oriented, they look out for danger and guide their master along the safest and most efficient route avoiding obstacles.
link: THE GUIDE HORSE FOUNDATION