Abrea Hensley recently took her miniature service horse on a flight to Chicago, and it sounds as if everything went swimmingly.
Anyone over a certain age who is reading this likely remembers a time not too long ago when air travel was incredibly different from how it is today. Due to the imminent threat of planes being hijacked and terrorists attacking airports that was ushered in with the 21st century, for the past 20 years, we have had to follow a lot of strict rules when traveling by air.
Nowadays, if we see something that is even slightly out of the ordinary aboard a plane, most of us are likely sent into a mild panic. We'd definitely be asking a lot of questions if we were on a flight and a miniature horse wandered on. That's what happened on a flight traveling between Nebraska and Chicago recently, reports Business Insider.
There was nothing to worry about, though. The horse's named Flirty, and he is the miniature service horse of Abrea Hensley. Abrea suffers from depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Due to her being allergic to dogs, she can't have a canine companion to help her ease the symptoms of those issues. Enter Flirty, the miniature service horse.
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Here are some pictures from our trip, yesterday! The plans ended up changing a bit and we flew to Chicago instead of NYC. This enabled me to see an aunt whom I haven't seen for a few years, so that was lovely! I have to say how impressed I am with how Flirty did on this trip. She took it all in stride like a pro. Once we achieved cruising altitude, she stood quietly and even took a nap! She managed the takeoff and landing pretty well, though she did have to work hard to keep her balance. She stood patiently as we waited for flights, and put up with lots of people crowding around to ask us questions. I learned a lot from this trip. I found out that it's important to make sure that I board early so I have maneuvering space to back Flirty in - she prefers standing with her butt against the side of the plane. I think she felt a bit claustrophobic when lack of maneuvering space forced me to lead her into our seats on the first flight. For the second flight, we boarded first so I had room to maneuver her and back her into our seats. I learned that she trusts me a lot and followed me up and down the ramps, and stepped up into the plane without hesitating at all. I also learned that I'm going to continue traveling by car and save flying for emergency situations. The airport here is smaller, so the planes are also smaller and don't have fixed bulkheads, they just have curtains for the "bulkheads" that separate first class from coach. As a result, Flirty was basically bumping the back of the last first class seats throughout the taxiing and takeoff, until we reached cruising altitude and she could settle in and take a nap. I know that annoyed the passengers sitting in those seats (my apologies to you folks, I didn't realize this would be an issue). It's also easier on Flirty to be able to stop and walk at various points during the road trip, versus standing around and airport and then standing in somewhat cramped space on the plane. All in all, it was a great experience, though. The people we met at the airport were all very kind and most people thought it was neat that service horses existed and could fly. The staff in particular at both airports was phenomenal.
Flirty had never been on a flight before but sounds as if she was the perfect passenger on her short-haul journey. "She took it all in stride like a pro. Once we achieved cruising altitude, she stood quietly and even took a nap," Abrea wrote on Flirty's Instagram. Apparently, Flirty's fellow passengers were quite taken with the fact that they were flying with a horse that day, and the American Airlines crew aboard the flight even posed for a photo with the service animal.
People have a wide array of different service animals to help with various issues. However, the news stories that come off the back of them trying to travel on planes is normally bad news. We have heard of situations where travelers have smaller service animals such as hamsters or squirrels and have been refused entry to a flight. Clearly, the way forward is a miniature horse, if you have that option.