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miniature horse

This post is part of our series on animals that assist individuals with disabilities and will attempt to clarify the status of miniature horses as a service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The ADA definition of service animal is limited to dogs. However, many people are unaware that the regulations make one exception to this definition to recognize miniature horses that have been individually trained to perform a task or service for a person with a disability as service animals.

Individuals with disabilities may choose miniature horses as an alternative to dogs for various reasons including religious observance and allergies to dogs. Miniature horses can be trained to perform many of the same tasks as dogs. They range in height from 24 inches to 34 inches measured to the shoulders, and weigh about 70 to 100 pounds.

The 2010 revised ADA regulations include a separate provision addressing miniature horses. These regulations state that covered entities, including public accommodations, must modify their current policies to permit miniature horses where reasonable. There are four assessment factors entities may use to determine whether or not miniature horses can be accommodated in their facility:

  1. Whether the miniature horse is housebroken.
  2. Whether the miniature horse is under the owner’s control.
  3. Whether the facility can accommodate the miniature horse’s type, size, and weight.
  4. Whether the miniature horse’s presence will compromise legitimate safety requirements necessary for safe operation of the facility.

Miniature horses are permitted to accompany a person with a disability to any place that members of the public are allowed to go such as restaurants, theatres, retail shops, grocery stores, etc. Both service dogs and miniature horses must be individually trained, housebroken, and under the handler’s control at all times when out in public.

MOD’s Role

MOD acts as a resource for people with disabilities, state and local governments, businesses, and housing providers on the issues of service animals, emotional support animals, and other assistance animals.  We seek to educate and inform the public and to support outcomes that lead to enhanced access for persons with disabilities. If you have been denied access because of your service animal, or have been denied a reasonable accommodation to keep an animal needed because of a disability, you may contact us by form or call 800-322-2020.

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