Miniature Horse Gives Special Needs Preschooler Mobility Help


by Natalie Travis

ANCHORGE-- 4-year-old Zaiden Beattie is spending his preschool days at Russian Jack Elementary, with a miniature horse, trained to help the boy cope with a fatal genetic disorder.

Zoe is a service animal--a 1st for Alaska schools, maybe even the nation, according to officials.

"She is the first that we know of ," said Elizabeth Hornbuckle, Principal for Russian Jack Elementary. "She is special for what she provides this little guy--- to keep his independence."

The horse is being trained to pick up objects and perform other tasks, while helping Zaiden get around, and have formed a close bond.

"Within 2 hours of her being born, Zaiden was in her stall," said Zaiden's mother, Lesley Zacharias.  "I mean they were snuggling up within hours of her hitting the ground."

Officials claim Zaiden's diagnosis has been a tremendous financial strain to his mother, who lost her job during the ordeal.

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