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  Guide Horse Foundation         

The Guide Horse Foundation
Guide Horse Foundation

A non-profit charity dedicated to providing free guides for visually impaired individuals.


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Helping Hooves
Training Guide Horses for the Blind

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Patricia Cornwell with Trip, one of the horses she donated to the guide Horse Foundation

Patricia Cornwell with Trip

Don and Janet Burleson - Copyright 2000 by Lisa Carpenter

Copyright © 2000 by Lisa Carpenter

Dan with Cuddles - Copyright (c) 2001 by Cathleen MacDonald
Copyright © 2001 by Cathleen MacDonald

Cuddles in Harness - Copyright (c) 2001 by Cathleen MacDonald

Copyright © 2001 by Cathleen MacDonald

Don and Janet with Trip and Ras

Copyright © 2000 by Lisa Carpenter

Cuddles on the first flight of a horse on a commercial flight

Copyright © 2001 by Erik Lesser
The worlds first horse to fly in the passenger cabin

Cuddles guiding Dan Shaw

Copyright © 2001 by Erik Lesser

Cuddles at Lunch

Copyright © 2001 by Erik Lesser

Copyright © 2001 by Wiley Miller

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Horses in the House

Guide Horses are trained to work indoors, but continuous depravation of fresh air and natural outside climate can cause serious health problems.

For health reasons, working Guide Horses are required to stay outside when they are off-duty.  Many first-time horse owner are tempted to keep their guide horse warn and dry in the winter, body clipping their natural fuzzy coat and keeping them in their house, but our vets says that the risks of lung ailments, colic and founder can be far higher when horses are stripped of their natural winter coat and kept indoors for long periods. 

It's important not to interfere with a horses natural coat and to provide a constant flow of fresh air:

  • Fresh air - Horses are very susceptible to respiratory ailments, and careful air quality control is required for any horse that is kept indoors for long periods of time.

"Even with their winter hair coat, horses are particularly sensitive to drafts and are affected by a number of respiratory ailments resulting from moisture accumulation and foul air."

We also see this article that notes that horses are often better-off put in  the elements than inside a closed area:

"The irony is that many of the horses' winter-related problems are initiated or exacerbated by their owners' good intentions: In trying to keep their horses as warm and dry as the hairless human deems comfortable, they drape naturally insulated animals in blankets, seal them up in airtight barns and stuff them with scoop after scoop of grain."

  • Body Clipping - Our experience and observations over the past three decades suggests that winter clipping of a horse (compensated with blankets, artificial heat and a closed-in barn) can sometime lead to fatal respiratory disease and founder.  This horse care article notes

"As the temperature changes, humans feel that they need to help their horses adjust to this change. In the summer months many horses are kept in a climate controlled barn. In the winter months, blankets and heaters are used. Again, what we consider comfortable is not what is healthy for horses. . . .

If left to their own accord, horses don’t normally seek out closed-in shelters as they are naturally able to deal with climate changes because their coats provide insulation against both heat and cold. In addition to having seasonal coat changes, horses can actually raise, lower, or turn the coat hairs to warm or cool themselves and caretakers should allow them the benefits of this natural process without interference.

Blanketing not only interferes with this process but may also cause the horse to overheat and sweat even in cold weather. Since the legs, belly, and head are not covered and are exposed to the cold air, these areas feel the chill. In order to warm them up, the whole body must be warmed causing sweating under the blanket. Furthermore, blanketing interferes with the horses' ability to grow a proper winter coat. By clipping, blanketing and controlling their indoor climate, we are taking away their natural defenses against the elements."


Cuddles loves a shower . . .

Taking a nap between classes.


Cuddles likes to sit in your lap.


Just like a dog, they sneak into bed after you fall asleep . .













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Training Miniature Horses as Guide Animals for the Blind

Janet Burleson

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Guide Horse ® Guidehorse ®  and Helping Hooves ® are registered trademarks.


The Guide Horse Foundation has the utmost respect for The Seeing Eye® and their seventy-two years of outstanding work with assistance animals for the blind. Even though the press often calls our horses "seeing eye horses", please note that The Guide Horse Foundation is not affiliated with or sanctioned by the Seeing-Eye® or any of the Guide Dog training organizations. Seeing-Eye® is a registered trademark of the Seeing-Eye, Inc.