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Miniature Horses as Emotional Support Animals: Everything You Need to Know

Oliver Jones

Emotional support animals (ESAs) have enjoyed increased notoriety in recent years, with many people using animals like dogs and cats for something that’s called animal-assisted therapy.

Emotional support animals can legitimately help people suffering from mental health issues, as they provide a natural alternative to harsh drugs that can be addictive and harmful to one’s health. It’s common to see people out and about with cats and dogs they use as ESAs.

The latest animals to make waves in the world of ESAs are adorable miniature horses that are as cute as cute can be. While it may seem odd to use a mini horse for emotional support, these creatures make wonderful therapy animals. If your interest is piqued, continue reading to find out more about using miniature horses as emotional support animals.

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Animal Assisted Therapy Explained

miniature horse_Alexia Khruscheva_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Alexia Khruscheva, Shutterstock

Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) is the use of animals to help people cope with and recover from mental health conditions. The basis of this therapy is that the animal in question provides comfort and emotional support to its owners. The animal may also be able to alert others if the owner needs help or even perform simple actions to assist the owner. In a nutshell, the goal of AAT is to alleviate or help people cope with symptoms of various mental and/or emotional conditions when possible.

It’s no secret that humans form a strong bond with animals. This human-animal bond allows people to interact with and relate to certain types of animals.

For someone suffering from something like depression or anxiety, bonding and interacting with a friendly, non-judgemental animal can produce a calming effect. This bonding can also help the affected person:

  • Feel more worthwhile and less lonely
  • Feel more social
  • Boost their mood
  • Gain more confidence and motivation for interacting with others and carrying out activities

The animals used in AAT are called emotional support animals and they’re often dogs, cats, birds, pot-bellied pigs, and horses.

Who Benefits from AAT

Many people can benefit from animal assisted therapy including those who suffer from:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Dementia
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Drug use disorder

About Miniature Horses

white miniature horse_Piqsels
Image Credit: Piqsels

Horses and ponies come in all sizes and shapes including the diminutive miniature horse. Standing at just 34-35 inches and weighing 225 to 350 pounds, miniature horses are bred to be friendly and to interact well with people. This is why it’s common for these animals to be kept as family pets.

The typical miniature horse is a perfectly proportioned sized-down version of its larger full-sized equine counterpart. These little horses come in a wide array of coat colors just like regular horses. They even have their own association called the American Miniature Horse Association (AMHA) that was developed to promote the animals and create a permanent registry for them.

Compared to full size horses, miniature horses are easy to keep and considerably less expensive to care for. They have wonderful personalities like their larger counterparts and enjoy spending time with their human owners.

Why They’re Good Therapy Animals

miniature horse in grass_Peter is Shaw 1991_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Peter is Shaw 1991, Shutterstock

Miniature horses have affectionate personalities, plus they’re as cute as a button. Due to their small size and wonderful attributes, these friendly little horses make great therapy animals. Some people who raise these animals take the horses to nursing homes and assisted living facilities to visit with the residents.

Miniature horses are amazing animals. By nature, they’re gentle, sociable, calm, and inquisitive. Their coats and manes are silky smooth and soft, making them animals people enjoy looking at, cuddling, touching, and hugging. It’s not uncommon for a mini horse to nuzzle up to a person as a way of showing affection.

Until recently, miniature horses were not very popular emotional support animals. This had nothing to do with the horses being unsuitable. It was mostly because many people didn’t know they could use this animal as an ESA. But with their charming personalities, gentle and sociable nature, and manageable size and exercise requirements, mini horses are now one of the most popular ESAs.

Type of Person Well-Suited for a Miniature Horse ESA

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Image Credit: cynoclub, Shutterstock

A miniature horse emotional support animal can be a good fit for someone who:

  • Can take a miniature horse outdoors for exercise every day
  • Is willing to put in the time and effort to train a mini horse
  • Has a home and yard with enough space for a miniature horse
  • Has the desire to form a strong emotional bond with a mini horse

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Conclusion

These days, miniature horse ESAs are allowed to travel on public transport in many places in the USA. Most airlines are now accepting these ESAs in the cabin with their owners, as long as the horses are clean and well-behaved and the owner has notified the airline prior to travel.

Don’t be surprised when you see someone with a miniature horse out in public. The chances are that the cute little horse is providing its owner with non-judgemental, unconditional love and support.


Featured Image Credit: Mark Edwards, Pixabay

Oliver Jones

Oliver (Ollie) Jones - A zoologist and freelance writer living in South Australia with his partner Alex, their dog Pepper, and their cat Steve (who declined to be pictured). Ollie, originally from the USA, holds his master's degree in wildlife biology and moved to Australia to pursue his career and passion but has found a new love for working online and writing about animals of all types.