New federal guidelines by the U.S. Department of Justice for the Americans with Disabilities Act permits, besides dogs as service animals, miniature horses too, to assist the disabled.
These new guidelines state that any animal trained to assist individuals are known as service animals, and animals, rodents, spiders, snakes, monkeys and cats are kept out of this definition.
Nevertheless, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development allow service animals of all types as well as emotional support animals. In fact, it was only after a petition was sent to the Department of Justice, were the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines changed to include miniature horses among service and guide animals.
Emily Weiss, senior director of shelter research and development for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said: 'You can train them [the horses] to do some pretty amazing things.'
Although they need a lot of care, more than dogs do, people who have learnt to rely on them, prefer them to dogs. A guide animal's job was to get its owner safely from one point to another and so, 'they have to able and willing to disobey commands, so it takes a special dog or horse.'
The mini should be able to take its own decision in spite of different instructions that may not be right. On the other hand, it should recognize that its owner has to make the final decision.
Ms Ramouni, a blind college student wrote: 'Life is hard sometimes - complicated and full of challenges that we think we might not be able to handle. If Cali [her miniature horse] can try, if Cali can persevere, it is my duty, my privilege, to keep on keeping on as well, because I can't let my sweet girl down.'