From the annals of animals that do more than just stand there and look cute, we bring you…the miniature horses of the Guide Horse Foundation.
Based in Kittrell, North Carolina, the Guide Horse Foundation breeds miniature horses, most of which are trained to assist disabled people.
According the foundation’s website, mini horses are ideal guides: They’re about the size of a large dog, they’re docile, they have great vision and memory, and they live much longer than dogs (typically 25 to 35 years).
We liked the section of the website called “Common Misconceptions about Guide Horses” best of all. Fun fact about mini horses: While standard horses tend to buck and run when they “spook,” mini horses are trained to “spook in place”—much safer for the disabled people they help.
The foundation requires owners to provide their mini horses with plenty of fresh air, opportunities to exercise, and even a companion horse. Compared to the circuses and petting zoos where mini animals used to hang out, this sounds like horse heaven.
Story by Kiera Butler. This article originally appeared in Plenty in October 2006. The story was added to MNN.com in July 2009.