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The Guide Horse Foundation
Guide Horse Foundation

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


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Helping Hooves
Training Guide Horses for the Blind

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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

Miniature Horses as Emotional Support Animal

Recent court rulings have extended the rights of the disabled to employ emotional support animals (ESA). To qualify, the disabled person must have a Psychological Neurosis (as delineated by the American Psychological Association diagnostic guidelines), and the animals must provide a legitimate service. Here are the official FAA regulations for Emotional Support Animals.

For example a person who was traumatized by a mugging could get diagnosed with Agoraphobia and gain the right to keep a ESA pony in an area where no pets are allowed.

On May 9 2003, the Department of Transportation (DOT) published new guidelines concerning service animals and air transportation as they relate to the Air Carrier Access Act (ACCA), ruling that ESAs fall within the scope of the ADA.

The financial costs to those who violate the rights of ESA users can be substantial. In 2000, a Minnesota judge awarded a man Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) $190,000 in damages after his condominium association refused to allow him to keep a ESA dog.

Miniature horses have been recognized as therapy animals. Miniature horses have the right to act as mobility aids, pulling wheelchairs and steadying those who could not walk without external support.

There is a fundamental difference between a Service Horse and a Emotional Support Horse (ESH). It is a Federal offense for anyone to require documentation from anyone using a Service Horse, but people with an ESH are required to provide a doctors note, confirming a mental health diagnosis.

Comedian Dave Barry notes a potential issue when traveling with a emotional support horse and the TSA issues with emotional support animals:


Security Guard - I'm sorry, Sir, your emotional support horse has set off the metal detector. Step over here, please.

clip-clop clip-clop clip-clop

Owner -
It must be the horse shoes.

Security Guard -
Then they'll have to be removed.

Owner -
What?! I can't remove his horse shoes!

Security Guard -
Remember the horse shoe bomber? We can't be too careful. Has this animal be away from your person at any time? Are you hiding something, Sir?

Owner -
Oh, for the love of Pete, NO. If I was trying to hide something, do you think I'd be so conspicuous to go walking thru a security gate at an airport with a miniature horse?!



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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.

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
Retail Price $27.95

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

Only $23.99

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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



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.