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  Guide Horse Foundation         

The Guide Horse Foundation
Guide Horse Foundation

A non-profit charity dedicated to providing free guides for visually impaired individuals.


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Patricia Cornwell with Trip, one of the horses she donated to the guide Horse Foundation

Patricia Cornwell with Trip

Don and Janet Burleson - Copyright 2000 by Lisa Carpenter

Copyright © 2000 by Lisa Carpenter

Dan with Cuddles - Copyright (c) 2001 by Cathleen MacDonald
Copyright © 2001 by Cathleen MacDonald

Cuddles in Harness - Copyright (c) 2001 by Cathleen MacDonald

Copyright © 2001 by Cathleen MacDonald

Don and Janet with Trip and Ras

Copyright © 2000 by Lisa Carpenter

Cuddles on the first flight of a horse on a commercial flight

Copyright © 2001 by Erik Lesser
The worlds first horse to fly in the passenger cabin

Cuddles guiding Dan Shaw

Copyright © 2001 by Erik Lesser

Cuddles at Lunch

Copyright © 2001 by Erik Lesser


A Mini Spledored Thing

You can lead a horse to water, but can the horse lead you?


Just ask Cheryl Spencer, a woman from Jacksonville, Florida, who is blind. After losing two guide dogs to old age, Spencer now relies on Confetti—a 3-year-old miniature Appaloosa horse. The horse was given to Spencer by JBR Ranch in Christmas, Florida, after Confetti’s owner decided she’d make a better guide horse than a pet. Confetti raises eyebrows—and awareness—everywhere she goes. Like guide dogs, Confetti wears a harness that allows her to lead Spencer in the right direction and, more importantly, protect her.

“I feel as secure with the horse as with the dogs, because horses are naturally more safety-conscious,” Spencer says. “I know she is looking out for me as much as she is for herself. She considers me to be an extension of herself.”

Guide horses are a relatively new concept. Don and Janet Burleson of Kittrell, North Carolina, founded the nonprofit Guide Horse Foundation ( in 1999 to assess whether miniature horses could be trained as guides for the blind. Today, the program provides them to blind people at no cost. “Horses are all about getting from one place to another safely,” Don Burleson says. “Also, horses have phenomenally long memories, so once they’re trained, they’re trained for good.”

According to Burleson, Horses have better peripheral vision than dogs—and they can be housebroken— but their biggest plus may be their longevity. Burleson points out that guide dogs typically work only eight to 10 years, but horses live longer and could work up to 30 years. That’s significant to Spencer, who was so attached to her guide dogs that when her second one retired, she vowed she would not get another. Then she learned about guide horses.

Like guide dogs, guide horses are protected by the Americans With Disabilities Act, which means they cannot be denied access to public accommodations. Confetti has been on buses and airplanes, and in restaurants and malls.

“People’s reactions are mostly shock and surprise, then amazement, and then they are thrilled we’re there,” says Spencer’s husband, Chris. “We have never been denied access anywhere.”–Jimmy Tomlin


Get the Book!


Helping Hooves

The Guide Horse Foundation Training Program to Train  Miniature Horses  as Guide Animals for the Blind

Janet Burleson
Retail Price $34.95

Order this book now and get 20% off the retail price!

Only $19.95

Order Now!


Read the compelling story of the first miniature horse trained to work as a guide horse. Learn the exciting methods used to prepare the tiny horses to perform these amazing services.


A portion of the proceeds from sales will benefit the Guide Horse Foundation.





  • Janet Burleson is one of the world's pioneering horse trainers – Practical Horseman Magazine

  • Seeing is believing – USA Today

  • Janet and Don Burleson are  . . . Angels – People Magazine

  • How wonderful that Janet and Don Burleson have initiated this valuable experimental program teaming miniature horses with blind people – Newsweek

  • Miniature ponies are leading the way for the blind – ABC News

  • Guide Horses  . . . are as small and disciplined as Guide Dogs – TIME Magazine

  • Extraordinary ABC 20/20

  • It is often the little things that win our hearts and minds – ABC News

  • The Burleson’s are . . . using horse sense to Guide Boston Globe

  • Twinkie proved that miniature horses could fill the role, and fill it well – VetCentric Magazine

  • An Intriguing Program - Discovery Channel






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Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001,2002,2003 by the Guide Horse Foundation Inc. 

Guide Horse ® is a registered trademark of the Guide Horse Foundation Inc.

The Guide Horse Foundation has the utmost respect for The Seeing Eye® and their seventy-two years of outstanding work with assistance animals for the blind. Please note that The Guide Horse Foundation is not affiliated with or sanctioned by the Seeing-Eye® or any of the Guide Dog training organizations. Seeing-Eye® is a registered trademark of the Seeing-Eye, Inc.