Guide Horse Users offer Feedback
With the Guide Horse experiment entering its fifth year, the
Guide Horse Foundation has been carefully tracking the experiences
on Guide Horse Users. To date, Guide horses have shown
exceptional intelligence, judgment and the ability to keep their
handlers safe in challenging situations.
Dan Shaw, our first Guide Horse user has been performing
exceptionally well with Cuddles and Dan reports that Cuddles is only
improving with use.
reports indicate that a Guide Horse can be cost-effective
alternative to traditional guides and help fill the critical
shortage of animal guides. According to
Lighthouse International, there are more than 1.3 million
legally blind people in the USA, yet only 7,000 guide animal users.
also an issue of high expense. According to the
Guide Dog Users national advocacy group, training a guide dog
can cost up to $60,000. With a longer useful life, Guide Horses
promise another option for the visually disabled.
Dan and Cuddles will become the world's longest working guide
team in 2015 when they enter their fifteenth year together, and they
are expected to be able to work as a team for more than 30 years.
According to Dan Shaw: "Cuddles and I were at an outdoor
fair and standing next to a large tent. The wind picked up and
Cuddles sensed that the tent was going to collapse, and she
insisted that we move away to a safe distance. Just seconds
later a large tent beam crashed into the spot we were standing.
She saved me from serious injury that day."
Ann Edie, an independent Guide Horse user reports great success
with her Guide horse: "My conclusion at this point in the
process, however, is emphatically that Panda is a delightful
companion and a fully competent and dependable working guide.
It is a joy to travel with her, and I can completely rely on our
effective communication and joint decisions to get us to our
travel destinations safely and efficiently."
At this point in the experiment, the Guide Horse Foundation has
been successful in developing a complete training program. Now
that Dan and Cuddles have been operational for three years, the
Guide Horse Foundation is planning to move forward with two more
teams in late 2003.