Europe’s first guide horse for the blind is coming to Bruges


Traditionally, dogs are used as assistance animals for persons who have severe visual impairments. However, miniature horses can also be used to ensure that the blind and visually impaired go wherever they want in safety. Furthermore, they also offer additional help with mobility.

Monique Van den Abbeel from Bruges was very upset when her guide dog named Xena died in 2016. Not only was Xena a fine companion, she also provided an extra pair of eyes. Then Monique heard that miniature horses can also be trained to become valuable assistants. They are calmer, less easily distracted and have a life expectation of between 25 and 30 years, which is a good two to three times more than that of man's best friend. And they are even cheaper to look after. A bale of hay costing €7 will last them for two to three weeks.

Monique chose Dinky. After months of intensive training in Tongeren, he can normally move into his owner's home in Bruges this year. Or at least into the little house that is being built in Monique's garden. After all, Dinky is still a horse. Having said that, he is sure to wander around the house quite often, which makes Monique feel rather like Pippi Longstocking. Meanwhile they have already had a chance to get to know each other. And Dinky can claim another first: he is the first animal ever to have set foot in the European Parliament in Brussels. He was recently invited by a European parliament member who wanted more attention to be paid to assistance animals.