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Assistance Animals - The Seeing Eye Horse
 By Artista   •   12th Apr 2011   •   17,955 views   •   22 comments
You might have heard of seeing eye dogs before, but what about a seeing eye horse?

The Seeing Eye HorseSeeing Eye horses (Also called Assistance Animals, Guide Ponies, etc.) aren't a huge trend in the world of assistance animals, but in special cases, they do exist. Just like seeing eye dogs are trained to assist their blind handlers, these miniature horses and ponies are trained to do the same thing.

The reasons seeing eye horses are used instead of dogs are numerous. In some cases, such as in the Muslim religion, where dogs are "forbidden" horses make the ideal substitute for blind handlers. For others, the horses provide more stability than even the largest of dogs, and they have a tenancy to be less cumbersome. Also, because a horses range of vision is much wider than a dogs, they tend to make ideal candidates for handlers who have a more severe (or total) loss of vision.

Assistance animals come in many shapes and sizes. Working as a trainer, I have seen everything from Capuchin monkeys to Bengal cats and beyond. Dogs still tend to make the best choice because of their high trainability and public acceptance, but miniature horses are gaining popularity. They are outfitted with special boots to hep them grip on slippery floors (and so they don't scratch the expensive floors of some building) and trained to do everything from load quietly into a car, tolerate airplane rides, close and open doors, turn off lights, and in some cases, can be trained on special phones to dial 911 in case their handler is in distress.

Always remember to respect service animals when you see them in public places. Never call them to you, offer to feed, pet, or play with them. They are working to help someone with a disability, and do their jobs best when they can focus!
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