6 Nov 2006, 5:14am
Social Issues

Helping Hooves

Did that make a double-take?

We have guide dogs, why not guide horses?

All guide animals rely on commands from their handler to tell them where to go.  Even the best-trained animal are not psychic and must rely on their handler to give them navigational signals.  Guide horses must master 23 voice commands and their handlers must pass a test demonstrating that they possess the orientation and mobility skills necessary to safely navigate with a guide animal.

Here are a few reasons why there the horses might have advantages:

  • Guidehorse Long Lifespan – Miniature Horse can live to be more than 50 years old, with the average lifespan being 30-40 years. According to guide dog trainers, guide dogs have a useful life between 8-12 years.
  • Better acceptance – Many guide dog users report problems getting access to public places because their dog is perceived as a pet.  Most people do not associate a horse as a pet, and Guide Horse users report that they are immediately recognized as a working service animal. 
  • Excellent Vision – Because horses have eyes on the sides of their heads, they have a very wide range of vision, with a range of nearly 350 degrees. Horses are the only guide animals capable of independent eye movement and they can track potential danger with each eye.  Horses can see clearly in almost total darkness.

The site is quick to point out that don’t wish to replace dogs but for people for whom dogs are inappropriate or unavailable, guide horses may be an option. As with guide dogs, or RCMP horses, most animals by intelligence, temperament or whatever, get bumped from the program. Only the best make it through.

There’s even a book all about it at the Guide Horse site.

Featured Link: Guide Horse

A Spare Thought or Two: I said I wouldn’t have a novel in me, but a novel is a sum and I have random numbers throughout my head. Maybe I only have to add them. (Next November?)

Hollylink: The children of the von Trapp family, now have moved on in all directions. Geology, skiing, furniture restoration, art. Little Louisa is a widowed grandmother. It’s surreal in the way life is.

I went to see a cousin and saw my cousin’s daughters. One looked about as much older as she should be for the feeling of time passing, mid-primary school and I remember her at 3. Reality shock is this is the baby of the family and the 3-year old I remember is an adult, looking at colleges, degrees.

Quote: “To a worm eating in a horseradish, the whole world is horseradish” — Yiddish proverb (via Malcolm Gladwell at TEDTalks)

Video Link: 2 minutes of a Google video of crows using crosswalks to break nuts on (auto-buffers to play when you click ) [via Cynical]

Glad Game: Going to the farmer’s market (one week left before they pack up) and seeing fresh local veggies.

The chuckle of the sign store that read: Unaccompanied children will be given free expresso and a puppy.

Going to a bakery and getting bread where the air is heady with yeast.

Making pancakes and the pockmarks the salt makes when it hits the silk of flour.

The sizzle.

Hm. Maybe I’m hungry?

Other glad good things: The dimple, the dibbit (divet?) under the nose, the ease of step, a vacuumed up home, the realization that a modem is $5 to buy or $5 a month to rent (oh my, look who’s going to be buying!), the seagulls who were flying swirls through the fog and snow, for the warmth of blanketed toes, for the jauntiness of scarf on a day cold enough for it, the visitors due to come, for the ability to take a full set of lung fulls and lunge into the day.

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