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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


Copyright © 2001 by Wiley Miller

 

 

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Stable won't let blind women ride on trail.


September 16, 2003.

By Michael D. Sorkin,
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
 


The owner of a riding stable here says he turned down two women who
wanted to rent and ride horses on his trails because both women are
legally blind.

"If they can't drive cars, they shouldn't ride horses where they have to cross creeks, make turns and steer on rough terrain," said Bill Spell, an owner of Ace Stable in north St. Louis County.

The women responded by filing a discrimination complaint this week with
the Missouri Commission on Human Rights, arguing that the stable violated state and federal law.

"It made me want to take action so the next blind person won't be
treated this way," said Chasity Jackson, 22, one of the women.

"Blindness is something you get used to," she said. "For us, riding is
easy."

The stable is located on 40 acres near Interstate 170 and Natural Bridge Road. Spell's family has owned the stable and raised and trained horses for 60 years.

The location is a mile west of the University of Missouri at St. Louis,
where Jackson lives and is a senior majoring in mass communications.

Last Wednesday, her friend, Ellen Nichols, 23, flew in for a week's
visit. Nichols lives in Seattle and has a job traveling and raising
money for a nonprofit charity.

On Sunday, the women decided to go riding. Jackson, who can see trees
and other large objects, used speech-reading software to check the
Internet for local stables. They settled on Ace, which advertises that its riding instructors are "experienced working with children and adults."

Jackson called to check the prices - $15 for 45 minutes - and says she
did not volunteer that they are blind.

"I felt that since the stable is open to the public, it shouldn't make a difference," she said.

They rode in a cab to the stable - where employees immediately noticed
their white canes.

Everyone agrees on what happened next: Spell turned them down flat.

Not because they wanted to ride, he says. Plenty of blind people and
others with disabilities ride horses.

But not, he said, on trails.

"They can't turn or make the hills or slant," he insisted. "Everything
about this place is predicated on the fact that you have to balance and
see where you're going.

"It would be like training blind with a bat at a baseball game. I don't
know how you could hit the ball."

State law requires stables to post warning signs. Ace's sign is posted
in front of the main building and also inside the arena. It reads:

"Warning. Under Missouri law an equine professional is not liable for an injury to or the death of a participant in equine activities resulting from the inherent risk. ..."

Both women say they have ridden trails before. Jackson says she rode
horses "three or four memorable times" in Wentzville a few years ago.
Nichols rode six or seven times, between the ages of 11 and 16.

At Ace, a trail guide rides with each group. The women say all they
needed was for the guide to ride in front and warn them of coming turns
and low branches.

"We tried to reassure him that all he had to do was have a trail guide
tell us which way to go," Nichols said.

Spell and his wife, Beverly, said they feared for the safety of the
women as well as the horses.

"I wouldn't be comfortable if I were blindfolded on a horse," Beverly
Spell said. She said anyone with a serious disability "would be a
problem" on the trails.

Missouri law prohibits discrimination in public accommodations, based
upon race, color, religion, national origin, sex, ancestry or
disability. It is unlawful to withhold or segregate services for any of those reasons. Most states have similar laws, which are based upon the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

Many blind people ride and even compete in riding competitions, says
Michael Kauffman, educational director for the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association. The association represents 670 riding centers for the disabled nationwide.

Blind riders often need assistance so they know where the jumps and
gates are in arenas, Kauffman said. "They can become tremendously
competent," he said.

"The question is, did this place just turn them down? Or did they try to accommodate them and offer alternatives?" Kauffman said.

Bill Spell says he suggested that the women try one of the association's riding centers, two of which are located in the St. Louis area.

"Those don't have trails," he said.

That's just the problem, the women said. It's the trails they wanted.

Said Kauffman: "This is a very complicated question. There's definitely
two sides to it."

Reporter Michael D. Sorkin:
E-mail: msorkin@post-dispatch.com
Phone: 314-340-8347
 

 

 

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

 

 
 

                                             Get the Book!

 

 

 

 

 

Helping Hooves

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

Janet Burleson
ISBN 0-9744486-0-5
Retail Price $34.95

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.

 

 

Quotes:

 

  • 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

 

 

 

Now you can read the book that tells the story of the development of the Guide Horse training program! Learn the techniques used to train a reliable, safe service horse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Helping Hooves

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

 

Janet Burleson
ISBN
Retail Price $34.95

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

 

Only $29.95

Buy 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.

 

 

 

Quotes

 

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

 

 

 

About the Author:

 

Janet Burleson

 

Don and Janet Burleson - Copyright 2000 by Lisa Carpenter

  Janet Burleson is the pioneering horse trainer that developed the Guide horse training program. As a lifelong horse training enthusiast, Janet Burleson has experimented with hundreds of horse behavior challenges.  With four decades of horse teaching experience, read how she trained Twinkie, the prototype first experimental Guide horse for the blind and Cuddles  the first Guide horse to enter full time service as a guide animal for Dan Shaw.

 

 

 

 

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.