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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

Owner-trained Guide Horse flies Commercial

For the latest in miniature horse headlines visit:

Confetti takes her first airplane ride in June, 2004!

Here is a great story about the first owner-trained Guide Horse to fly in the USA:

According to the link above, Cheryl and Confetti have taken their first airplane ride.  Cheryl visited the Guide Horse Foundation in 2001 and met with me along with Dan Shaw with Cuddles.

Long-time horse lovers, Cheryl and her husband Chris were saddened by the long waiting list at the GHF and decided to pursue owner-trained guides, a right guaranteed by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Cheryl tells people that she had her eyes removed after a life-threatening eye infection and that she wanted a super-reliable replacement for her aging Seeing Eye dog "Delta", who passed away at the age of 12 recently after nearly a decade of faithful service.

Cheryl obtained enthusiastic approval and financial support from her state Council for the Blind and was given charitable funding to acquire Confetti and the services of a professional horse trainer to assist Chris and Cheryl in their self-training endeavors.  Confetti has been reported to be doing an exceptional job in keeping Cheryl safe despite her total blindness and has recently earned her wings, taking an grueling commercial flight.

"Confetti has earned her wings!  We flew to Boston, MA, last weekend on Delta Airlines for my youngest daughter's high school graduation.  Confetti flew in the cabin with us and stood in the bulkhead seat area."

Cheryl has reported great success in housebreaking Confetti, but like all responsible guide animal owners, there were fully prepared for any eventuality:

"Confetti did really well--better than I thought she would, and much better than Cheryl thought she would.  We developed a poo bag system for her in anticipation of her being frightened having an accident on the plane.  She surprised us both by not having an accident.  She has become adept at emptying herself out when we are going in somewhere and holding it until we get back to the van. 

We took her to pee in Atlanta, but she wasn't ready to poo there.  She held it until we got into Logan, and finally couldn't hold it any longer.  It was 5-1/2 hours from the time we left the van in Jacksonville and the time she let go in Logan.  The poo bag system worked perfectly, and everything went into the bag.  I took it off, tied it and gave it to a nearby cleaning person who gratefully disposed of it.  No muss, no fuss, and, most importantly, no embarrassment!"

Their first-time flying experience was very similar to reports from Guide Horse Foundation Graduates on their first commercial flights:

"On the plane, the first takeoff was a bit scary for her, but she handled it very well.  The first landing also startled her a bit when the wheels touched down, but she is an amazingly adaptable little girl, and she took her cues from us.  I talked soothingly to her on takeoff and landing, and that seemed to help her handle it. 

The second takeoff was both easier and a bit more scary for her because she knew what was coming.  But instead of spooking, she leaned against the bulkhead to brace herself!  The second landing was no big deal at all.  This time she leaned against us, and, of course, we were bracing for the engine reversal.  She took it all in stride!"

Cheryl also reported that Confetti was quite adept at traveling in a rented vehicle, and adapted quite well to foreign surroundings:

"By the time we returned that minivan, she was a pro!  She really showed us how much she both loves and trusts us and how much she enjoys being a guide.  Speaking of which, Confetti was a tremendous help guiding Cheryl through the airports while I dealt with the luggage.. . .   She is an amazing little girl!"

Cheryl reports that Confetti has bladder control on-par with their Seeing Eye dog and has able to "hold it" for eleven hours:

"I can go on and on and on about her, but let me end by saying that the return trip was 11 hours, and she waited until we were in the parking lot in Jacksonville before she unloaded.  She didn't wait to get to the van, but she tried.  I forgot which parking lot I had parked in, and we ended up in the wrong one.  While I was trying to find the van, Confetti enjoyed a salad we got for her in Atlanta."

The experience of Cheryl and Confetti has confirmed what my experiment has indicated, that any blind person with the assistance and guidance of a professional horse trainer can train a guide horse to the same level as the professional guide dog schools.  It will be interesting to follow Cheryl and Confetti over the next two decades to see how they keep getting better-and-better.

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Helping Hooves

The Guide Horse Foundation Training Program to Train  Miniature Horses  as Guide Animals for the Blind

Janet Burleson
Retail Price $27.95

Order this book now and get 20% off the retail price!

Only $19.95

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Read the compelling story of the first miniature horse trained to work as a guide horse. Learn the exciting methods used to prepare the tiny horses to perform these amazing services.


A portion of the proceeds from sales will benefit the Guide Horse Foundation.





  • Janet Burleson is one of the world's pioneering horse trainers – Practical Horseman Magazine

  • Seeing is believing – USA Today

  • Janet and Don Burleson are  . . . Angels – People Magazine

  • How wonderful that Janet and Don Burleson have initiated this valuable experimental program teaming miniature horses with blind people – Newsweek

  • Miniature ponies are leading the way for the blind – ABC News

  • Guide Horses  . . . are as small and disciplined as Guide Dogs – TIME Magazine

  • Extraordinary ABC 20/20

  • It is often the little things that win our hearts and minds – ABC News

  • The Burleson’s are . . . using horse sense to Guide Boston Globe

  • Twinkie proved that miniature horses could fill the role, and fill it well – VetCentric Magazine

  • An Intriguing Program - Discovery Channel






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Guide Horse ® is a registered trademark of the Guide Horse Foundation Inc.

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. 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.