Miniature horse aids Alaska boy with special needs

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Associated Press

Posted on March 22, 2013 at 1:05 PM

Updated Friday, Mar 22 at 1:33 PM

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A miniature horse named Zoe is helping a special needs preschooler at an Alaska elementary school deal with mobility problems.

The young animal is being trained to help 4-year-old Zaiden Beattie (ZAY'-den BAY'-tee) move around Russian Jack Elementary School in Anchorage.

Zaiden has a genetic disorder that progressively robs children of their ability to coordinate movement, such as walking.

It's the only service horse in an Alaska school — and after multiple online searches, the only service horse Principal Elizabeth Hornbuckle could find at any school in the nation.

Zaiden's mother, Lesley Zacharias (zak-a-RIE'-us), is training Zoe to help Zaiden lift himself out of a chair and walk steadily by grasping onto handles on the little horse's specially made harness.

The horse is being trained to pick up objects and perform other tasks that could help Zaiden.

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