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Small Horses - Big Help!

You’ve heard of guide dogs for the blind, well in America, they are trianing guide horses for the blind!  Miniature horses are being used as guides for the blind, help animals for the mobility impaired, and therapy animals in nursing homes, hospitals, and children’s centers.
If you haven’t heard about all this, it’s not surprising, as the concept is fairly new. The first person to enlist the aid of a seeing-eye pony was Dan Shaw. Due to a rare disease, Dan became totally blind several years ago. He was determined to continue living an active life, so he enrolled at a school for the blind. He understood that a guide dog was an option, but he didn’t want to get attached to a dog only to lose it in a few years.
Dan heard about a new program that a North Carolina couple, Don and Janet Burleson, were experimenting with – miniature horses for the blind. When he learned that these equine typically live for more than 30 years, he was intrigued. He made the trip to the Burlesons’ to meet and work with Cuddles, a miniature mare.

Dan and Cuddles hit it off, and now the man and his young horse are exploring the world on their terms. Cuddles has helped Dan navigate the streets of New York City, and she’s even accompanied him on a commercial flight. In fact, she was the first horse ever to fly in the cabin of a plane.

Dan also enjoys long walks in the woods with his little equine, and he states that she’s very calm and well behaved. She knows more than 25 voice commands, and when she needs to go outside for a bathroom break, she taps the door with a hoof.