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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

Court rules in favor of Miniature horse for neighborhood subdivision

In a protracted Rhode Island court battle, a homeowner successfully challenged a anti-livestock law, winning the right to keep Sonny, their miniature horse in a neighborhood subdivision.

In one of the most eloquent statements in jurisprudence, the judge finds that Sonny the miniature horse is more like a dog than the conventional horse:

Sonny's shoulders will never be higher than 3 feet from the ground and his weight will never exceed 150 pounds. The animal, by all descriptions, as well as by the Court's view on July 6, is gentle, amiable and not high strung or vicious in the least. His stature and weight will never reach that of a Great Dane, a Bull Mastiff, or a Saint Bernard; and it is unlikely that any training could make him into a guard or attack animal along the lines of a Doberman Pincher, a German Shepherd or a Pit Bull.

Indeed, the popular name for this animal--"miniature horse"--is an apt one. When Shakespeare's Richard III cried out to his deity and the fates to supply him with a horse in return for his kingdom, if Sonny (or one of his ancestors) had appeared from the underbrush into the clearing, the distraught king surely would have uttered an Anglo-Saxon expletive that would make an Elizabethan audience blush and then fallen on his sword. [FN1] Alas, Sonny the miniature horse cannot be ridden nor used to pull a plow through a field.

FN1. "A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!" from William Shakespeare, King Richard III, Act V, Scene 4.

Further, the judge deemed that a miniature horse is not considered livestock within the legal definition:

"As I indicated above, the intent of the drafters of the restrictive covenants was not to bar a pet such as Sonny, but rather to prohibit cattle and horse farms, chicken coops and the like."

However, it should be noted that Sonny performed a service for a disabled person.  The judgment notes:

"Balancing the equities, the Mignaccas have found a gentle pet and wholesome activity for Christian, whose weak legs, problematic growth plates and braces prevent him from participating in other competitive activities, such as baseball and football, with his friends and other children of his age, and this clearly outweighs the undifferentiated fears of the Homeowners Association and the individual plaintiffs."

The full text of the decision can be found here:

The appellate case is here:


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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.