BELLE IS A POPULAR SIGHT in Chesaning. The 10-month-old miniature horse, weighing under 150 pounds, is a therapy animal owned by Catherine Moore. Moore is also training Belle to become a certified service animal. Miniature horses are becoming more common in the therapy and service fields for a variety of reasons including horses are natural guide animals and offer an average lifespan of 25 or more years – far longer than a canine.

   During the village meeting on Tuesday, July 20, discussion was focused on allowing Belle to continue to live in Chesaning with Moore, since horses are defined under village ordinance as livestock. An online petition to keep Belle had garnered considerable local attention.

   At one time in her life, Moore had owned full-sized horses, so she is an experienced horse enthusiast. After being forced to retire due to medical conditions and with her kids grown, she was drawn to owning a miniature therapy horse to help her with various, day-to-day needs. Learning to live with psoriatic arthritis, Moore came to believe a therapy horse would be a terrific and useful companion. She adopted Belle from Sterling Silver Mini Farms in Ohio, bringing her home to Chesaning in the back of her GMC. The two quickly bonded and Moore has continued to further the animal’s training.

   “I’ve been working on desensitizing her to noises and different environments,” Moore shared. “She is tied to my person at all times and has never hurt anyone.”

   After receiving a letter from the village stating there had been a few complaints in the community about Moore keeping a horse – though rabbits, ducks and chickens are allowed – the petition was started, culminating in the Tuesday meeting.

   Moore was out of town for the meeting, but her friend and neighbor Brenda Reed was in attendance on her behalf. Reed also assists in some of Belle’s care, allowing the miniature horse extra running room in her own yard, which adjoins Moore’s property.

   According to Moore, the village council concluded there was actually nothing they could do to prevent Moore from keeping Belle, since the miniature horse falls under service animal guidelines. However, they have recommended that the department of agriculture will have to make the ultimate determination, based on any state requirements in properly sustaining a miniature horse.

   So, for the time being, Belle will remain with Moore in Chesaning. Moore is pleased. She shared how Belle has become “quite a sight” in the community, receiving free ice cream cones and free popcorn from local businesses. Moore is planning a first birthday party for the miniature horse and wants the public to watch for a website, which will be available soon.

(Courtesy Photo)

Therapy Animal was last modified: July 28th, 2021 by Karen Elford