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  Guide Horse Foundation         

The Guide Horse Foundation

Guidehorse Newsletter!


call  252-431-0050 

- Home Page

- How to Apply for a Guide Horse

- Free Seminars and Clinics

Contact Us

- Frequently Asked Questions

- Guide Horse Training Details

- Photographs

- Common Misconceptions

- Events

- Guide Horse Web Links

- Legal Access for Service Animals

- Guide Horses in Movies

- Miniature Horse News

- "Helping Hooves", our story

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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Common Misconceptions about Guide Horses

The pioneering use of Guide Horses has led to numerous misconceptions about the role and use of miniature horses as guides for the blind. For more answers, see our FAQ pages on horse question and guide horse training questions.

Misconception:  Guide Horses compete with guide dogs

The Guide Horse Foundation loves guide dogs and often recommends guide dog schools to blind applicants.  Blind people have very few mobility options, and must rely on a cane, a human guide or a guide dog.  The Guide Horse foundation was created to give blind people another mobility option. A Guide Horse is a personal preference, and Guide Horses are not for everyone,.  The Guide Horse Foundation caters to horse lovers, those who need a guide with a long lifespan, blind equestrians who ride large horses, and blind people with dog allergies. 

Misconception:  The Guide Horse Foundation breeds horses

Miniature horses have a wide variation in size and it is not practical to breed them.  The Guide Horse Foundation relies on donations from large breeding farms and individual donations.  Less than 1% of miniature horses are suitable for the Guide Horse program, and all horses must have exceptional small size, physical health and above average intelligence.

Misconception:  The GHF places dwarf horses as guides

 The Guide Horse Foundation does not place dwarf horses as guides. While a dwarf miniature horse (Twinkie) was used as a prototype horse during the years spent developing and refining the training program, the GHF only places physically sound horses with exceptional stamina and we seek exceptionally small, correct horses with good conformation and sound legs for the Guide Horse program.  Only those horses found healthy by a licensed equine veterinarian are accepted into the Guide Horse program.

Misconception:  Guide Horses must live indoors

While Guide Horses are trained to work indoors while guiding, all Guide Horses handlers are required to have a fenced outdoor area and barn for when their Guide Horse is off duty.  All horses require lots of fresh air, and all Guide Horses live outdoors when not guiding.

Misconception:  Guide Horses live lonely lives

Just as dogs are pack animals, horses are happier when they have a friend to come home to after work.  While it is not considered uncommon or cruel for a horse or dog to live alone, the Guide Horse Foundation considers the feelings of the horse and always places a companion horse with each Guide Horse.

Misconception:  Guide animals must know where their handler wants to go

All guide animals rely on commands from their handler to tell them where to go.  Even the best-trained animal are not psychic and must rely on their handler to give them navigational signals.  Guide horses must master 23 voice commands and their handlers must pass a test demonstrating that they possess the orientation and mobility skills necessary to safely navigate with a guide animal.

Misconception:  A Guide Horse might "spook"

The Guide Horse Foundation is acutely aware that the blind people entrust their lives to their guide.  All Guide Horses undergo the same systematic desensitization training that is used by riot-control horses and Cavalry horses. Guide Horses must learn to "spook in place" and they must master this skill to 100% proficiency.

Misconception:  Guide Horses are not trained to the same level as a guide dog

All Guide horses learn exactly the same behaviors as a guide dog, and the GHF spent several years carefully developing and refining the training program. All Guide Horses must demonstrate 100% proficiency at keeping their handler safe in chaotic traffic, and no Guide Horse is placed until their handler can confidently place their life in its control.  Guide Horses have proven to be exceptionally talented in keeping their handler safe in traffic, partially because their 350 degree range of vision allows them to see traffic in all directions at the same time.  

Misconception:  Guide animals are easy to train

Training any guide animal requires many years of full-time training experience because the blind people entrust their lives to their horses.  Janet Burleson, the first person in the world to train a Guide Horse, is a retired professional horse trainer with more than 30 years of full-time horse training experience.  Noted as one of the world's pioneering horse trainers by Practical Horseman Magazine, Janet Burleson is considered a leading authority on horse training techniques.  Janet spent several years researching Guide animal training before developing her revolutionary program, performing an exhaustive review of all published guide animal books and working extensively with professional guide animal trainers and blind guide dog users.





This page describes the miniature horse and the miniature horse health, miniature horse care, miniature horse characteristics, and the miniature horse registries and miniature horse health.  We also have miniature horse feeding, miniature horse grooming and miniature horse vision.

We also cover miniature horse allergies, miniature horse acceptance, and the miniature horse as a guide.

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  Helping Hooves
Training Miniature Horses as Guide Animals for the Blind

Janet Burleson

Contains over 100 all-color photo's!

Retail Price $27.95 / £20.75 

- Help the Guide Horse Foundation give free Guides
- Author royalties benefit the Guide Horse Foundation

Only $19.95


Copyright © 1998 - 2005 by the Guide Horse Foundation Inc. 

Guide Horse ® Guidehorse ®  and Helping Hooves ® are registered trademarks.


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. Even though the press often calls our horses "seeing eye horses", 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.

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