Blind student uses ‘guide pony’

Cali is the first guide animal for Mona Ramouni, a devout Muslim whose parents – Jordanian immigrants – would not accept a dog into their house.
Miss Ramouni, a 30-year-old blind student at Michigan State University, uses Cali, one of a handful of miniature horses in the US known to be used as guide animals.
“Usually I’m good about it because you have to educate people,” Mona Ramouni said. “Sometimes I’ll say, no, it’s a really cool toy.

The university has an internationally recognised centre which assists disabled students and employees integrate into the community and achieve their full potential.
While there was some initial concern about whether Cali would make a mess or be a distraction, the tiny brown horse with a shiny black mane is surprisingly tidy and even gets along with the guide dog of one of Ramouni’s classmates.
“The thing that I love about having Cali and the dog Harper in the class is that it’s such a vivid example to people about how adaptive students can be in going about their lives and achieving what they want to achieve,” Prof Shelley Smithson said.
Weighing in at slightly over 7st, miniature horses are about the same size as a large dog but are much stockier and can help support people with mobility issues.
They also have significantly longer lifespans – they can live and work for more than 30 years while guide dogs are usually retired after about six to eight years – but require much more care.
Without Cali, Miss Ramouni probably would never have pursued her dream of getting a master’s degree in rehabilitation counselling so she can one day work with disabled children.
She bought Cali in October 2008 and sent the retired show pony to a professional trainer to be taught to tap her hoof to point out obstacles, get in and out of cars and buses, and even pick up misplaced objects with her teeth


1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    Ammara said,

    awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww that is so cute ommmg!

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