Miniature Horses Designated as Service Animals in Illinois

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed a bill into law Tuesday (Aug. 14) designating Miniature Horses as recognized service animals. The bill allows these equids to accompany disabled students to school and other public venues currently open to service dogs.

According to a report in the Chicago Tribune, the new law takes effect immediately.

As originally introduced, HB3826 amends the Illinois Guide Dog Act to include unspecified animals other than dogs. An amendment added by Illinois State Sen. David Koehler specifically designates Miniature Horses as recognized service animals in Illinois. On May 15 the Illinois Senate passed HB3826 in its amended version.

According to information contained on the Guide Horse Foundation's website, miniature equines are suited to roles as service animals due to their longer lifespan, good manners, stamina, and excellent vision. Advocates claim the so-called guide horses also benefit some visually impaired or blind owners who are allergic to dogs.

Conversely,, a website developed by individuals against using Miniature Horses as service animals, claims some of the horses' innate traits make them unsuitable for this use. For instance, the website says that because horses are flight animals, their instinct to flee could put their handlers at risk.

No one from the Guide Horse Foundation or responded to communications seeking comment on the Illinois bill's passage.

Under its rules, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) allows the use of trained service horses as alternative to dogs in situations where use of the equine would be appropriate. However, the ADA rule does not specifically define Miniature Horses as service animals.

About the Author

Erica Larson, News Editor

Erica Larson, news editor, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with FREE weekly newsletters from Learn More