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If you ever doubt that horses can be trained to deal with unusual situations, then remind yourself of the Guide Horse who is trained to face escalators and subways as part of everyday life.

Yes you read that right.

A Guide Dog that's a horse. A pygmy horse in fact (they have to stand between 20 and 25 inches at the shoulder — smaller and they are too rare and expensive; larger and they won’t fit under restaurant tables!).

As we horse owners all know, horses are highly aware of safety, constantly on the lookout for danger. This trait is ideal for guiding work. And it turns out that horses have a natural tendency to guide their handler along the safest and most efficient route, and that they demonstrate excellent judgment in obstacle avoidance training. Perfect.

So what can a Guide Horse offer that a Guide Dog cannot? The main winner is longevity. Horses live a lot longer than dogs. 30-40 years compared to 10-16. Many blind people cannot bear the idea of becoming attached to an animal and then having to replace it.


And for those who swoon at cute - Guide Horses can be outfitted with tiny sneakers to give traction on slippery floors and protect their hooves too small for regular iron horse shoes.

For more info, check out the Guide Horse Foundation

27 comments:

People use to laugh at me when I told them that a place in central California was training miniature horses as guide animals. That was almost 20 years ago now. I am glad to see that people are not laughing anymore.

4:19 AM  

If you are interested. Alexandra Kurland has quite a bit of information on her website regarding her training process for a mini named Panda.

It took her about 20 months to completely train panda!
http://theclickercenter.com/2004/Panda/index.php


And here's a great little video clip:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLdO2cBAusw

cheers,

Mary H.
http://stalecheerios.com/blog

12:50 PM  

Absolutely the most adorable thing I ever seen. The photo with the sneakers is too much! Is there any doubt how effective these little guys could be? We know how brilliant our big boys are. I just wish I could fit my TBs in my home!

11:43 PM  

oops...I meant "I've ever seen" - typing too fast made me sound like an idiot!

11:49 PM  

will you give me the tips how to train the horse

5:06 PM  

that is just... simply adorable. i mean i knew horses were smart, but i had no idea they could be trained in such a way! and the little sneakers were... well they could give someone a heartattack their so cute.

feel free to check out my blog sometime if your in the neighborhood, i'd love to see what oyu think of it!

www.trainingayounghorse.com

2:56 PM  

I've always loved the idea that animals can help people... and the fact that ponies are smart enough to help in such a visible way as being service animals is truly amazing!!!

12:27 PM  

Awe what a cutie! I have heard of people doing this a lot. The lady we sold one of our miniature horses to brought her to the VA hospital every spring when she foaled and the people there always loved it!

1:43 AM  

Wow, i am really glad to know that there are also many people who shares the same interest with me. i am looking forward on hearing from you regularly.

12:05 AM  

oh that s increible! best photo! some people take care of horses, and some horses take care of people. " Horses, our best friends , ever "

7:35 AM  

Love your blog. I am training a mini to do therapy work. They are very special animals. Keep up the good work. Check out my blog.countrytimecreations.com.

10:30 AM  

Thats adorable! There is always room for animals in all aspects of our lives. Thanks for posting!

6:14 AM  

Very cool, I never knew horses could do that. I need to get a pair of sneakers for my dog too! He's not quite as smart, but it would be fun!

10:19 AM  

Wow thats amazing, how cute is that little horse! love the blog keep up the great worktrear

3:46 AM  

love the topic, I had fun reading it coz I'm a horse lover too but just a beginner one so right now I just keep on collection information that would be helpful for me in my new love.

4:40 PM  

This is an incredible story!! Your thoughts on longevity of horses makes sense.

2:27 AM  

Thank you so much for this post. I think that it is wonderful for there to be a guide horse. I did not know there was such a thing!

11:14 PM  

Wow! Incredible!

7:20 AM  

That's pretty cool. I've heard of this before but nothing in a while. I'm going to link to this - let me know if that's not OK and I'll remove.

6:45 AM  

Got to love a story like this. Shows that done the right way horses can be trained to do anything!

4:19 PM  

I was never aware about the ability to use miniature horses as guide animals. What I am curious about is who trains these animals, I have used an amazing horse trainer in the past, Larry Surrett. He is located in Minnesota and would be more than qualified to train these animals.

2:12 AM  

Too gorgeous!

2:48 AM  

Nice website!

/www.oliviawestern.blogg.se
American Paint Horses in Sweden.

3:04 AM  

Such a cute and adorable one. I wish I had this also. It's amazing to know that they could also be trained like dogs.

4:01 PM  

that is adorable! I can't see why you can't use a miniture horse for the job... they're intelligent and highly intuitive.

1:11 PM  

This article is really eye opening, I have never heard of a guide horse before. Thanks for writing it!

10:14 AM  

A miniature horse trained as a guide? Well, This is really amazing! I've never seen or even heard that a miniature horse can be trained as guide. Very nice blog!

2:51 PM  

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