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The latest assistance animal: a 'seeing-eye horse'

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Vaughan | 11:30 UK time, Friday, 27 March 2009

We've had guide dogs, guide ponies, hearing dogs and even helping hand monkeys, but could disabled people riding 'seeing-eye horses' along the high street be the next big thing when it comes to employing assistance animals?

If Tabitha Darling of Fort Worth in Texas gets her way, they might be. Tabitha is legally blind, but also has a bone condition that can make walking painful. So instead of a guide dog or a wheelchair, she rides Trixie, a guide horse. The only problem is that she's riding her everywhere, including round the local supermarket.

The Americans with Disabilities Act says that stores cannot refuse enry to a service animal, but Tabitha's horsing around (sorry) in the aisles, weaving between the pickles and the sliced white loaves, is causing controversy in the local community - including amongst other disabled people. One Fort Worth resident who is also blind and physically disabled, but uses a more conventional combination of a seeing-eye dog and a wheelchair, says that Tabitha "doesn't need to be riding around like Lady Godiva in a store".

Well, I've checked the photos on the article, and from what I can see she's not naked like the infamous Godiva, but we'll leave that criticism to one side and focus on the horsey business. I guess their 'business' is part of the problem too, since horses aren't noted for nipping off to the nearest public toilet when they need to relieve themselves, if you catch my drift.

So what do you think? Is it a case of anything goes when it comes to assistance animals, and we should have the right to use any creature we want in any location we might find ourselves in, or should there be some level of practicality about it?


  • Comment number 1.

    There is much more to this that you do not know.
    Trixie was and has never been abused. (I caught someone slapping her once and I nailed them for that) A horse I am currently training was though. (by shovels and ropes and hoses) Trixie was fully trained before I got her to assist me.
    For one as a trained service animal Trixie tells me when she has to go. Secondly for people's peace of mind we have a poop bag that we normally use when inside but not always. Thirdly blindness is not my only disability that Trixie assists me with. I have epilepsy and a bone condition to top it off. So no Trixie is more than just a seeing eye pony. Thats why I have her, she assists me more perfectly than just a seeing eye dog, or just a seizure alert dog. She is a multipurpose service animal, guide pony however you want to put it. Case in point, the reason I did this video shoot was to explain to the public to fight for their rights that the DOJ is trying to remove from us. Our right to choose what best suits out unique disabilities and have the most independence in life. The DOJ does not have the right to take ours away period.

  • Comment number 2.

    That is very positive news for the persons with special needs...that "seeing-eye horses" are available...

    ~Dennis Junior~


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