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Winter 2018 Issue:

Miniature Horses

Are miniature horses really service animals under the ADA?

The answer is yes… but there are some considerations that do not apply to dogs. The revised Title II and Title III regulations that went into effect on March15, 2011 require public entities to modify their policies to allow service miniature horses whenever it is reasonable to do so. However, the revised definition of a service animal in the Title II and III regulations only refer to dogs as meeting the definition critera. This has created some confusion regarding whether or not public places have to treat miniature horses as service animals. Miniature horses, although not included in the definition of a service animal, are specifically listed in the regulations as the one animal that may be used as an exception to a dog. A miniature horse then, just like a dog, meets the criteria of service animal when it has been individually trained to perform work or a specific task for the benefit of an individual with a disability.

Public entities should assess whether it is reasonable to allow a miniature horse into their facilities based on four factors:

  1. Whether the miniature horse is housebroken,
  2. If the miniature horse is under the owner's control
  3. Whether the facility can accommodate the miniature horse’s type, size and weight
  4. Whether the miniature horse's presence will compromise safety requirements/operations. (Remember, this must be based upon actual fact rather than speculation or assumptions.)

The same requirements established for service dogs regarding issues such as inquiries, identification, and removal apply to miniature horses.

Did You Know that Miniature Horses...

  • Are a specific breed--they are not small ponies.
  • On average, are 24 to 34 inches high and 70 to 100 lbs. (Similar to the size of a large dog.)
  • Live longer than regular horses: 25-30 years.
  • Have excellent eyesight, peripheral vision, and see well at night.
  • Can pull or push heavy objects more easily than most dogs.
  • Can help stabilize someone with balance difficulties or stop a fall.
  • Sometimes wear special "sneakers" to prevent their hooves from damaging flooring.
  • Want to learn more about service miniature horses? Visit the Guide Horse Foundation.
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