Little visitors leave big impression

Publish Date:

Friday, January 15, 2010

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News Organization:

Orange County Register

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The Orange County Miniatures are trotting all over Yorba Linda's hearts.

The small horses have been parading in their decorated carts from Laguna Beach to Hollywood, and they are hoping to be marching in Pasadena in the future.

Miniature horses Dorado, Annie, Silver and Rockie recently trotted right into the Brighton Gardens of Yorba Linda. The small horses brought along their handlers and carts, and the residents of the senior living community were amazed that there were four horses inside their home.

The horses were greeted in the great room, and then they trotted off to the assisted living quarters to greet residents in their rooms.

Sunrise believes in providing an environment much like home, and has included on the payroll a pooch named Arthur. The seniors are also allowed to have their own personal pets if they are able to care for them. Brighton Gardens also houses a striking aviary of finches in the main lobby.

The seniors at Brighton had many horse stories to share. They all remember riding the old farm and ranch horses with just a lead line, or when a testy pony dumped them in the field and ran all the way home. One resident's family started in the horse racing industry in the early 1900s, and they raised quarter horses for the track. All were amazed at the little horses' personalities, and the horses were offered Christmas cookies and peppermints.

The horses are fun to visit with, but they need their space outside. There is controversy over whether miniature horses are suitable as assistance animals for seniors, the blind or people with disabilities. Opponents of using miniatures for assistance animals raise concerns that horses are prey animals, with a flight instinct that may limit their usefulness. Mostly friendly, and predictable, there is always the moment when the horses could bolt.

In terms of practical considerations, it has been noted that it is difficult for miniature horses to do things such as lie down in the seat of a taxicab, or check into a hotel room for any extended stay.

In the U.S., the minis are legally classified as livestock and require outdoor stabling for good health. Their use is limited to owners with access to a large yard in communities having tolerant land use regulations.

Within the last 15 years, the miniature horse has become a popular back yard horse in Yorba Linda. The Orange County Miniatures drive the trails, and are often seen along the El Cajon trail and at the Community Center, City Hall and at Hurless Barton Park.

The horses left many smiles behind, as well as little hoof prints all over the senior's hearts! The ladies had great joy in sharing their passion of the smallest horses of Yorba Linda.

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