The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) allows two types of animals to serve as Service Animals: dogs and miniature horses. Read on to learn more about mini horses as Service Animals!
Miniature horses are small, sturdy horses ranging in size from 26″ to 38″ tall. They can weigh 55 to 200 pounds, and they come in a variety of colors and patterns. These hardworking little animals are easy to keep and maintain. Minis possess a sweet-natured and docile, and many showcase high levels of intelligence.
What Type of Service Do Miniature Horses Provide?
Miniature horses are best known for their work as guide animals, but they also make excellent mobility assistance animals. They’ve been experimentally used for guide work since 1999 with outstanding results. Mini horses are less common mobility Service Animals than dogs, but for a variety of reasons, they’re an excellent candidate. Guide Horses, the premier training organization of miniature horses as Service Animals, notes “In early experiments, Guide Horses have shown great promise as a mobility option, and people who have tried Guide Horses report that the Guide Horses perform exceptionally well at keeping their person safe.”
Other Working Jobs Miniature Horses Do
Miniature Horses also commonly work as therapy animals, as they’re very gentle, interactive, and intuitive. The best known mini horse animal assisted therpay program in the U.S. is Gentle Carousel Therapy Horses. Teams of tiny Gentle Carousel horses visit over 25,000 adults and children each year inside hospitals, hospice programs, and with families, veterans and first responders who have experienced traumatic events.
Finally, there’s been some exploration into utilizing mini horses in search and rescue. Air Scenting Horses has successfully trained at least one mini to the standards required by the National Association For Search and Rescue for human remains detection. Experts have trained many full sized horses for detection jobs, and miniature horses possess many of the same traits.
Requirements for Mini Horses as Service Animals
Like any Service Animal, miniature horses must possess a sound temperament and good structure before being considered for service work. They must be individually trained to meet their person’s needs, and their person must be considered disabled as defined by U.S. federal law.
Miniature Horses who work in public require extensive desensitization so they’re able to work calmly through distractions. Horses can be naturally spooky, so socialization ranks high on the list of requirements. In addition to the public access training, the mini horse requires house training and task training.
What Are the Benefits of Partnering With a Miniature Horse?
Miniature horses offer many benefits for the people they’re suitable to work with! They live a long time (35 years in some cases!), with a working life of 20+ years. Mini horses better sized for many people requiring mobility work and they’re easy to groom. They don’t trigger allergies the same way dogs do.
These unique little animals don’t have the social drive dogs do, and so they stand very quietly while working and while in public. Mini horses house train easily. They require a small amount of outdoor space. Horses cannot get fleas, which is a huge bonus! Finally, for people who cannot work with dogs for religious reasons, a miniature horse can provide an excellent solution.
What Type of Care Do Mini Horses Need?
While miniature horses work indoors and can accompany a disabled individual to any place of public accommodation, they require a small area of outdoor housing, complete with a shelter. They eat a moderate amount of hay and grain per day (2-4 pounds of hay and .5 to 1 pound of grain, depending on age and body condition). They enjoy grazing, but gain weight easily, so owners must monitor their body condition.
Horses of all kinds need regular veterinary care, including working every couple of months, and routine vaccinations. They need supplementation for salt and trace minerals, but this easily accomplished through a salt block. They need regular exercise and mental stimulation. Many horses enjoy playing games of various kinds and minis are no exception!
What Kind of Gear Do Mini Horses Need?
Miniature horses require, at a minimum, a halter, lead rope, and special shoes so they can walk on slippery surfaces. Depending on the mini horse’s job, they’ll also need a guide or mobility support harness, plus a vest or cape.