Most Shared

Miniature horses aren't just cute — they can be used as service animals. Meet the mini horse guide.

What do you do when a guide dog is not an option? Meet the guide mini horse.

Miniature horses aren't just cute — they can be used as service animals. Meet the mini horse guide.

Meet the guide mini horse.

Shari Bernstiel walks with her guide horse. Image by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images.


Guide dogs — sometimes referred to as Seeing Eye dogs — have been assisting disabled people for at least 100 years, with references to them dating back perhaps centuries.

The first U.S. school for guide dog training, named The Seeing Eye, opened its doors in 1929 and has been in business since. (The colloquial use of the term “Seeing Eye dogs" is actually a reference to the school's trademark and brand.)

But not all people like dogs, and this includes some people who are visually impaired and those with other disabilities that call for a service animal. So what other options are out there?

A mini horse.

Dan Shaw walks through a mall in Maine with his guide horse named Cuddles. Note the sneakers. Image by Michael Andersen.

The guide mini horse acts much like its sibling service animal, the guide dog.

Much like the guide dogs, guide mini horses act as trusted aides for those in need, helping them navigate through the world. And both take about a year to 18 months to train.

But there are some major differences.

Image by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images.

The Guide Horse Foundation in North Carolina notes that guide horses are useful for about 30 years compared to around a dozen for dogs, making them arguably more cost effective over their useful lifespan.

Guide horses are useful for about 30 years compared to around a dozen for dogs.

But there are downsides. The miniature horses need to live outside and require a lot more space than a guide dog, which can live in a small apartment without much difficulty. They also have the need to relieve themselves more often than dogs, making themselves much more cumbersome.

And while mini horses can be incredibly cute, this has its downside because a guide animal isn't supposed to be petted by others while on duty.

Guide dogs are great, but for some people they're simply not an option.

The most likely scenario is due to an allergy to dog dander, but there are other reasons. Take, for example, the situation of Mona Ramouni, a young Muslim woman in Michigan, reported by Today in the fall of 2010.

Mona in school, accompanied by her guide horse Cali. Image by Mira Oberman/AFP/Getty Images.

Born blind, Mona was an excellent candidate for a guide dog — except that she came from a devout Muslim family. Dogs are considered unclean under Muslim law and cannot be kept as pets — but horses can.

Mona received Cali, a guide mini horse, and has since been able to navigate the world without help from friends and family — unless one counts Cali as a friend.

While guide horses may be a second choice after dogs, the demand for them has been, per the Guide Horse Foundation, “overwhelming."

As of this writing, the foundation has stopped taking applications for horses.

Image by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images.

Dan Lewis runs the popular daily newsletter Now I Know ("Learn Something New Every Day, By Email"). To subscribe to his daily email, click here.

Mozilla
True
Firefox

When I found out I was pregnant in October 2018, I had planned to keep the news a secret from family for a little while — but my phone seemed to have other ideas.

Within just a few hours of finding out the news, I was being bombarded with ads for baby gear, baby clothes and diapers on Facebook, Instagram and pretty much any other site I visited — be it my phone or on my computer.

Good thing my family wasn't looking over my shoulder while I was on my phone or my secret would have been ruined.

I'm certainly not alone in feeling like online ads can read your mind.

When I started asking around, it seemed like everyone had their own similar story: Brian Kelleher told me that when he and his wife met, they started getting ads for wedding rings and bridal shops within just a few weeks. Tech blogger Snezhina Piskov told me that she started getting ads for pocket projectors after discussing them in Messenger with her colleagues. Meanwhile Lauren Foley, a writer, told me she started getting ads for Happy Socks after seeing one of their shops when she got off the bus one day.

When online advertising seems to know us this well, it begs the question: are our phones listening to us?

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Sometimes a boycott succeeds when it fails.

Although the general aim of a boycott is to hurt profits, there are times when the symbolism of a boycott gives birth to a constant, overt and irreversible new optic for a company to nurse.

When the boycott of Facebook began in June and reached its peak in July, it gathered thousands of brands who vocalized their dissatisfaction with the platform.

The boycott, under the hashtag #StopHateForProfit, was launched by civil rights groups. By July brands were fully behind removing their ad spending - resulting in a small financial dent for the social media juggernaut, but a forceful bludgeoning in the press.


Keep Reading Show less
Mozilla
True
Firefox

When I found out I was pregnant in October 2018, I had planned to keep the news a secret from family for a little while — but my phone seemed to have other ideas.

Within just a few hours of finding out the news, I was being bombarded with ads for baby gear, baby clothes and diapers on Facebook, Instagram and pretty much any other site I visited — be it my phone or on my computer.

Good thing my family wasn't looking over my shoulder while I was on my phone or my secret would have been ruined.

I'm certainly not alone in feeling like online ads can read your mind.

When I started asking around, it seemed like everyone had their own similar story: Brian Kelleher told me that when he and his wife met, they started getting ads for wedding rings and bridal shops within just a few weeks. Tech blogger Snezhina Piskov told me that she started getting ads for pocket projectors after discussing them in Messenger with her colleagues. Meanwhile Lauren Foley, a writer, told me she started getting ads for Happy Socks after seeing one of their shops when she got off the bus one day.

When online advertising seems to know us this well, it begs the question: are our phones listening to us?

Keep Reading Show less

I saw this poster today and I was going to just let it go, but then I kept feeling tugged to say something.

Melanie Cholish/Facebook

While this poster is great to bring attention to the issue of child trafficking, it is a "shocking" picture of a young girl tied up. It has that dark gritty feeling. I picture her in a basement tied to a dripping pipe.

While that sounds awful, it's important to know that trafficking children in the US is not all of that. I can't say it never is—I don't know. What I do know is most young trafficked children aren't sitting in a basement tied up. They have families, and someone—usually in their family—is trafficking them.

Keep Reading Show less

Every murder of an innocent person is tragic, but the cold-blooded killing of a child is too heinous to even think about. So when a man walks up to a 5-year-old riding his bike in broad daylight and shoots him in the head in front of his young sisters, it's completely reasonable that people would be horrified. It's an unthinkable and unforgivable act.

Cannon Hinnant didn't deserve to die like that. His parents didn't deserve to lose him like that. His sisters didn't deserve to be scarred for life like that. We can all agree that a horrible tragedy in every way.

His murderer—Hinnant's dad's next door neighbor, Darius Sessoms—deserved to be rounded up, arrested, and charged for the killing. And he was, within hours. He deserves to be punished to the full extent of the law, and history indicates that he assuredly will be. The system is working exactly as it's supposed to in this case. Nothing can be done to bring Cannon back, but justice is being served.

So why is #SayHisName trending with this story, when that hashtag has long been used in the movement for Black Lives? And why is #JusticeForCannon being shared when justice is already happening in this case? Why is #ChildrensLivesMatter a thing, when there's never been any question that that's the case?

Keep Reading Show less