Young fillies will compete Friday at the Kentucky Oaks, a run-up to the Kentucky Derby. Little horses also will strut their stuff Friday — off the track at a Kentucky airport.
Miniature therapy horses at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) in Hebron, Ky., are the only horses in America to greet travelers, allay their anxiety and pose for photos (do they have a choice?)
The airport started the animal program a year ago to help anxious fliers relax a bit.
“We did a test visit with one or two horses, and passengers loved it,” airport spokeswoman Mindy Kershner said.
The mini-horses are certified therapy animals from the nonprofit Seven Oaks Farm in Ross, Ohio. (That’s the organization’s Lisa Moad in the photo above.) They appear twice a month at the airport, usually before the security area, for a few hours in the afternoon.
“The point is to release anxiety and stress for travelers,” Kershner said. “And that’s heightened right before screening.”
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in 2013 started a Pets Unstressing Passengers program, or PUP for short, in which handlers bring therapy dogs around gate areas as a stress-buster for travelers.
Airports in Miami, Oklahoma City and San Jose also have therapy dog programs, and San Francisco International Airport (SFO) has a pot-bellied pig who hangs out with nervous fliers.