Scout and Cuddles

Published on August 14, 2013

So this tiny horse wearing sneakers walks into a comedy club...

Yes, a miniature wearing lavender and white leather sneakers performs at a comedy club in New York City.

Scout is one of many miniature horses who is a professionally trained “seeing-eye horse”.

Scout

Scout sharing a joke at the comedy club.

Miniature Ponies: Guide Horses for the Visually Impaired

Did you know that miniature ponies are used as guide horses for the visually impaired?

They are perfect for horse lovers who need assistance to remain mobile and independent. Plus they don’t bite, live longer than their canine compatriots, and have a sense of humor (ref. our comedian, Scout)!

“Horses are natural guide animals and have been guiding humans for centuries. In nature, horses have been shown to possess a natural guide instinct. When another horse goes blind in a herd, a sighted horse accepts responsibility for the welfare of the blind horse and guides it with the herd. With humans, many blind people ride horses in equestrian competitions. Some blind people ride alone on trails for many miles, completely relying on the horse to guide them safely to their destination. Through history, Cavalry horses have been known to guide their injured rider to safety.”1

The Guide Horse Foundation, founded in 1999 and lead by professional horse trainer. In addition to the above, characteristics of horses that make them suitable to guide the blind, include their

  • Calm Nature – Trained horses are extremely calm in chaotic situations. e.g. police and cavalry horses
  • Great Memory – Horses possess phenomenal memories. And as we horse owners/lovers know, a horse remembers a dangerous situation.
  • Excellent Vision – Horses has great peripheral vision because their eyes are on the sides of their heads.
  • Safety Conscious – As we know, horses avoid dangerous situations. A horse trained in obstacle avoidance is able to judge the safest route and leads its person there.
  • Good Manners – Guide horses are very clean, can be housebroken, stand quietly when on duty and spend off-duty hours outside.
  • And more......

We already know that many visually-impaired people ride horses, both in competitions and on trails. They believe that the horse is a capable guide. One blind rider said that she sometimes goes for walks in the woods with her full-sized horse for walks. Her horse makes allowances for her needs and walks beside her for miles in the woods, gently nudging her whenever she strays from the trail.

And then there is Cuddles... Here are some of her world records:

  • world’s first officially recognized guide horse
  • first guide horse to ride in the passenger cabin of an airplane
  • first guide horse to ride in a NY subway
  • first guide horse to ride an escalator
  • first guide horse to go to the cinema – Shrek, A Knight’s Tale

Photos of Cuddles:

CUDDLES 11

Cuddles on plane PONY 2

 

Cuddles at a restaurant Cuddles in action Cuddles as guidehorse along city streets

 

And friends:

ponies_n_bed_180

 

 

 

 

All photos Copyright © 2001 by Erik Lesser

1. The Guide Horse Foundation: http://www.guidehorse.org/

 

Need help with your horse? go to http://northernlightsequine.ca/our-services/

 

Published in True Horse Stories
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