PHOENIX, AZ - The non-profit Paws 4 Life has 10 years of experience training dogs to be service animals for people with a wide variety of disabilities. Now they're teaching a miniature horse the same tricks. 12 year-old Shadow is being trained to do exactly what the service dogs do, in the same 18-month certification program.
Other than being adorable, what do miniature horses have to offer? They're just as intelligent as dogs and enjoy having a job to do, according to Chip Wilson, President of the Arizona Horse Council. If someone has a balance problem, they could steady themselves and hang on to the horse with a special harness, and the horses are sturdy enough to move a wheelchair.
Plus, the life expectancy for a miniature horse is over 35 years, so they could be a companion for close to 30 years.
Shadow will need more room than dogs, and more space outside, but he can also be house trained, just like his classmates.
If all goes well, more miniature horses will be added to the program. And we can expect to see them out and about helping people, anywhere that a service dog would. Good luck, Shadow!