Aside from children's birthday parties and special events, what purpose does a miniature horse serve? Well, you might be surprised to learn there are breeders breeding hundreds of them on ranches throughout the U.S.. Plus, they are small enough to be kept as pets for both seniors and toddlers. They can drive carts, participate in parades and are less expensive to purchase than a full-sized horse.
Take to the friendly skies . . .
With all the recent news about airlines clamping down on their 'pet travel' policies, you might also be surprised to learn that Southwest Airlines is the most lenient. In their recent pet update, they actually included miniature horses. Why? Because they are perfectly suitable to become trained service animals.
Southwest Airlines welcomes trained dogs, cats, and miniature horses as service animals onboard our flights as long as the Customer is able to provide credible verbal assurance that the animal is a trained service animal. Southwest Airlines does not accept unusual or exotic species of animals.
All Shapes & Sizes
Emotional support and service animals come in all shapes and sizes – peacocks, squirrels, pigs – you name it. But service animals are trained and actually act as guides. Can miniature horses take on that role?
The Guide Horse Foundation notes that horses are actually natural guide animals who have assisted man down through the ages. Even in the wild, horses show a natural guide instinct. "When another horse goes blind in a herd, a sighted horse accepts responsibility for the welfare . . . and guides it with the herd."
With miniature horses in particular, the foundation points to several attributes that makes them exceptional service animals:
Long lifespan: While a guide dog can serve for maybe eight to 12 years, horses historically have an average lifespan of 30 to 50 years old. Since people and their service animals make strong bonds, this alternative is significant. There are greater chances that miniature horse owners wouldn't have to face losing them during their lifetime.
Cost effective: Only 7,000 out of the 1.3 million blind people in the US use guide dogs. Training can cost up to $60,000, according to the Guide Dog Users national advocacy group, which could prove prohibitive. "Hence, a Guide Horse could be more cost-effective and ensure that more blind people receive a guide animal," notes the foundation.
Better acceptance: Guide dog users report resistance in accessing public places where dogs are not permitted because their dog is perceived as a pet. Those who use miniature horses do not seem to have this problem since the animal is more easily recognizable as a service one.
Calm nature: Just think of calvary and police horses in the midst of chaos – horses can be trained to remain very, very calm.
Great memory: Horses have amazing memories. I know that's a fact because of my childhood with horses, but the foundation add that horse will naturally remember a dangerous situation decades after it happened.
Excellent vision: Because of the placement of their eyes, a horse's range of vision is almost a remarkable 350 degrees. They are the only guide animals that can move each eye independently, meaning they can track potential danger with each eye. Plus, they can see very well in the dark.
Focused demeanor: Trained horses are very focused on their work and are not easily distracted.
Safety conscious: Horses are very alert and always looking for dangerous situations. "All horses have a natural propensity to guide their master along the safest most efficient route," explains the foundation, "and demonstrate excellent judgment in obstacle avoidance training."
High stamina: Healthy horses are hearty and robust.
Good manners: Guide horses can be housebroken, they do not get fleas and only shed two times per year. (Which means they are also a great choice for people who are allergic to dogs.)
If interested in owning your own service horse?
If you are interested in owning a miniature horse, there are many resources to help you find a healthy happy horse you can learn to care for. The American Miniature Horse Association [AMHA] and its website offers resources on history, horse care, training, color breeding, and many other topics of importance.
Do your homework and find a good breeder who breeds quality and healthy equine. You might consider buying two minis, as they love to have company. And don't be surprised if two aren't enough!
Primary Source: Miniature Horses make such great service animals