Last week the New York Times ran an article featuring Ann Edie and her guide miniature horse, Panda. (If you aren't familiar with this pair, don't miss the profile here at clickertraining.com, documenting how Alexandra Kurland clicker trained Panda.) I had the privilege of meeting Ann and Panda myself in 2007—and it was hard not to be impressed. From the Times article:
What’s most striking about Edie and Panda is that after the initial shock of seeing a horse walk into a cafe, or ride in a car, watching them work together makes the idea of guide miniature horses seem utterly logical. Even normal. So normal, in fact, that people often find it hard to believe that the United States government is considering a proposal that would force Edie and many others like her to stop using their service animals. But that’s precisely what’s happening, because a growing number of people believe the world of service animals has gotten out of control: first it was guide dogs for the blind; now it’s monkeys for quadriplegia and agoraphobia, guide miniature horses, a goat for muscular dystrophy, a parrot for psychosis and any number of animals for anxiety, including cats, ferrets, pigs, at least one iguana and a duck. They’re all showing up in stores and in restaurants, which is perfectly legal because the Americans With Disabilities Act (A.D.A.) requires that service animals be allowed wherever their owners want to go.
It's an interesting piece. You can read the full article here.
As Karen Pryor wrote in The Panda Game: "KPCT was fortunate to have Ann Edie and Panda as honored guests at ClickerExpo Newport in 2006. Everyone enjoyed meeting this distinguished pair. We were awed by Panda's calmness as she guided Ann during the day, through crowds and halls and past all sorts of dogs (some of which were distinctly upset at having a horse among them). People were wonderful about not trying to pet Panda as she worked, even though she is deliciously cute and furry. At the Saturday night autograph party Panda even signed her own books, Panda: A Guide Horse for Ann, with a little, inky front hoof."