Miniature horses are now recognized as important (and adorable) service animals

| March 16, 2017

It may not just be hopeful children asking for pet horses this year, but adults with mobility issues as well.  A new law passed in Arizona allows miniature horses to be used as service animals by blind and disabled children.

Miniature horse

Zoe, a miniature horse, is a service animal for Zaiden, 4, who suffers from a mobility disorder.

What exactly are miniature horses? They are biologically small horses, typically 24 to 34 inches, and weigh between 70 and 100 pounds. Horses have been known to have natural guiding qualities; when another horse goes blind in a herd, a horse with proper vision guides it. Horses also have excellent vision, a calm nature, and a focused demeanor.

Previously, state law only defined dogs as guide and service animals that could be taken into restaurants and other businesses that banned animals from entering. That changed when Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed into law a measure that adds miniature horses to the state’s definition of a service animal. The house bill was signed Friday April 5th, 2013, and allows individuals with disabilities to enter businesses with trained service dogs or miniature horses.

Mini horses animal

Miniature horses are calm and collected, which makes them ideal guide animals.

How exactly are mini-horses effective service animals? Consider the case of Zaiden Beattie, an Alaskan four-year-old preschooler diagnosed with ataxia-telangiectasia, a fatal genetic disorder that cripples children and restricts their movement as they get older. Zoe, a miniature horse, was assigned to Zaiden to help him walk. The horse provides support for Zaiden to put his hand on him, improving mobility and balance. Zoe, the miniature horse, has learned to pick things up and hand things to him.  Zaiden’s teacher, Cynthia Temple said, “My goal as a teacher for all the kids is independence, regardless of their needs…Now Zoe is part of how Zaiden is going to function, walking, and getting up from his chair, those little things that I can already see.”

The Arizona law does not recognize other species of service animals, from public places with rats, snakes, or other trained animals. Federal law already recognized miniature horses as service animals in some instances under the Americans with Disabilities Act in March 2011. This law states that dogs and miniature horses are acceptable service animals. Consequently, various states have tweaked their laws to include the horses in its service animal regulations, and now Arizona has followed suit.  It will be interesting to see the appearance of these awfully cute animals providing support in businesses and public places.

Service Animals Welcome

Post a Service Animals Welcome Sign to accommodate people of all abilities.

Category: Pets

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