[tabi] I Don't Think I sent thisFw: Miniature horses get OK to be service animals

  • From: Charles Atkins <catkins@xxxxxxx>
  • To: <tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 26 Mar 2012 17:25:22 -0400

----- Original Message ----- 
From: Maggie Shumaker 
To: Maggie Shumaker ; Sasha T ; Charles Atkins 
Sent: Thursday, March 22, 2012 7:39 PM
Subject: Miniature horses get OK to be service animals


LOS ANGELES — Most people who require a service animal to assist with a 
disability use dogs, but new federal guidelines also permit use of an animal 
that might come as a surprise: miniature horses.
Horse experts, disability advocates and breeders say not many people use 
miniature horses, but the new Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines could 
change that.
"As much work as she is — and she is a lot more work than a dog — I would not 
trade her for 10 dogs," said Mona Ramouni, 30, a blind woman who lives in East 
Lansing, Mich., and attends classes at both Michigan State University and the 
University of Michigan.
Her 5-year-old mini is named Cali (short for Mexicali Rose), stands 30 inches 
tall and is the size of a Newfoundland dog. Cali likes watching television, 
pizza, rolling around in the mud and attention, which she gets a lot of because 
she is a people-magnet, Ramouni said.
Miniature guide horse opens doors for blind student
"You can train them to do some pretty amazing things," said Emily Weiss, senior 
director of shelter research and development for the American Society for the 
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Most horses live into their late 20s and early 30s, Weiss said, two or three 
times the lifespan of a dog.
The ADA rules are basically the same for dogs and minis, as long as the horse 
is housebroken.
Ramouni says she wrote everyone she knows asking them to petition the 
Department of Justice to include miniature horses in the new ADA law.
Dolores Arste, an animal trainer and relationship coach in Mena, Ark., did her 
part. She was Cali's trainer and says five other minis in the United States 
serve as guides for the blind. All of the trainers wrote to the DOJ, she said.
Ramouni went blind shortly after birth. Growing up in Detroit, she could not 
have a dog because her devout Muslim family considered them unclean.
Unlike service animals, who learn to turn off lights, open refrigerators and 
pick up dropped objects, guide animals have to lead their handlers around 
danger, get into cars and onto public transportation and follow others, Arste 
said.
Because a guide animal's job is to get the handler safely from Point A to Point 
B, "they have to able and willing to disobey commands, so it takes a special 
dog or horse," Arste said. If there are tools or toys or debris on a path, the 
animal has to resist even if the handler says go, she explained.
On the other hand, the animal also has to trust the handler to make the final 
decision. Ramouni recalled Cali hesitating at a flight of stairs, but 
ultimately accepting Ramouni's urging to go. "She trusted me enough to do it 
for me," Ramouni said.
Horses need more room than dogs and are more work for owners. Dogs are fed and 
walked a couple of times a day, while horses eat hay and grass and produce 
waste throughout the day, Weiss said.
But minis can be housetrained, Arste said. Miniature horses can be fed hay or 
grass in the form of pellets or cubes, though that can cause ulcers, said Karen 
Malcor-Chapman, who owns the KPM HoneyPony ranch in Norco.
Even the smallest mini needs an 8-by-10-foot stall and room to run, said 
Malcor-Chapman, who is also a professional mini mare midwife.
"A horse is meant to be in an environment where he can move about, small or 
not, eat throughout the day and be with his buddies," Weiss said.
Horses don't get fleas, but they do get parasites, ticks and attract some other 
pests, Weiss said.
Arste doesn't think there will be a run on miniature horses because of the new 
law, but Weiss worries that some individuals may rush to get them, then leave 
them homeless if it doesn't work out.
"It's not unusual, unfortunately, for them to end up on the slaughterhouse 
floor because there's no home for them," Weiss said.
Ramouni and Arste have kept a blog tracking Cali's career as a guide horse. On 
March 17, Ramouni wrote:
"Life is hard sometimes — complicated and full of challenges that we think we 
might not be able to handle. ... If Cali can try, if Cali can persevere, it is 
my duty, my privilege, to keep on keeping on as well, because I can't let my 
sweet girl down."

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