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12:57 AM Wed, Dec. 19th

AROUND THE BLUMIN’ TOWN: Southwest Airlines connects with mini-horses

Judy Bluhm, Courier Columnist

Judy Bluhm, Courier Columnist

Hold your horses! Air travel just got a whole lot more fun. Yes, Southwest Airlines has updated its list of emotional support and service animal guidelines. You may bring a cat or dog for emotional support on a plane with the proper documentation. And the service animals that are on the approved list include, dogs, cats and mini-horses. Giddy-up!

Have a bunny, goat, pig, hamster, tarantula, or peacock for emotional support that you want to bring onboard? Forget about it! No more reports of passengers being forced to be sitting next to pot-belly pigs. So that is the good news. Airlines are taking a more sensible approach to who and what can fly.

Did you know that mini-horses are actually very good guide animals for the visually impaired? They are sturdy and strong, live much longer than dogs and usually have sweet dispositions. But they can weigh 150 to 250 pounds! Not exactly sure where on a packed airplane, with limited legroom, a horse is going to fit. Oh, and the service animals must be “well-behaved and potty trained.”

I asked one of my horse friends, who raises mini-horses, if she potty trains them. She laughed and said she has never tired, but it is possible. Since a mini-horse can “hold it” for four or five hours, it might be fine on a flight. But longer than that? She said there are “mini-horse diapers” available.

I had a neighbor with a mini-horse named Sugar, who often was dressed up in little skirts, hats and even sun glasses. Sugar liked going for rides in the family van and loved the drive-thru where she was given an ice cream cone. Every morning Sugar was allowed inside my neighbor’s house, through the kitchen sliding door where she walked in a circle around the center island and then was given an apple as she was ushered out again. She was like a big dog!

Sugar would be very calm and a “good” companion on a flight. But there was a “disaster” with a mini-horse in a first-class cabin, when it defecated on the floor and a passenger’s foot. This was before the plane took off. Let’s just say that the passenger made a huge stink and a cleaning crew came in to “disinfect” the cabin, delaying the flight for one hour. The poor little horse had to stand in the jetway and evidently was in a state of “humiliation.”

I am going on a Southwest Airlines flight in late September to visit my mother in Ohio. And being a horse lover, it would give me great pleasure to be seated next to a mini-horse. Unless it has to lay on my feet. Or go potty. Or has fleas. My husband, Doug, a big animal lover, says he is not OK sitting next to a horse on a four-hour flight! Neigh?

Dear readers, the skies are friendly and interesting. Let’s be prepared for our next flight. Perhaps bring a carrot, a diaper and some sanitizing wipes for any “disasters.” And this is coming straight from the horse’s mouth.

Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local realtor. Have a question or a comment? Email Judy at judy@judybluhm.com.