(CNN) – Leaflets for the first time are usually nervous, anxious or definitely excited. Not Fred. After months of training, the first flight of the miniature service horse was a breeze.
Freckle Butt Fred, as it is formally known, flew last week for the first time as a service animal for his owner Ronica Froese of Croton, Michigan. The certified double horse is certified both as a service and a therapy animal and therefore admitted on board.
But the flight could also be his last.
For that, Fred would say neigh. His person, Ronica Froese, had covered him.
With his small body measuring only 26 inches in height and 115 pounds, Fred stopped quietly in the legroom of his first-class seat as he and Froese traveled from Grand Rapids, Michigan, to Dallas, and then on to the final destination of Ontario, California on February 7. On Thursday they exactly went back.
Sure, the two seats in the first-class bulkheads might have cost Froese more than $ 2,000, but she said it was worth it as it provided her and Fred some comfort.
“Fred was the definition of a perfect flight service animal,” Froese told CNN. “Everyone loved it. Pilots, co-pilots, flight attendants, TSAs, airport staff and all the passengers were kind. Many passengers were so amazed at how well they behaved.”
In addition, they exercised.
Fred visits a local hospital as a therapy horse.
Froese knew that takeoff was going to be the most difficult time on the plane, so he prepared Fred by loading him into his Ford truck and practicing fake take-offs. Airplane noises were reproduced through its speakers to make it real.
He imagined that security would also be a nuisance. So, Froese took Fred to the court to practice going through a metal detector.
All the training proved useful.
There was an obstacle: a flight attendant was allergic to horses. But the aqua green dress that Fred wore – it’s called “shabby” – prevented an allergic reaction from happening.
Wait, why a horse?
“When I have a strong talent, the way I describe it is that Freddy Krueger takes his fingernails and rips them through the intestines,” said Froese.
Ronica Froese and her miniature service horse, Fred, fly first class.
“When I’m really sick, I struggle to walk, I struggle to fix things, I can’t bend over. Fred is trained in completely direct recovery … So if I drop something, Fred will pick it up and give it to me. If I have I need him to go get me something, I can point to an object. He can go get my shoes, “he added.
While most of the reaction on the plane was positive, Froese said he received some judgmental glances.
“I have an invisible autoimmune disease,” said Froese. “Not all disabilities can be seen and we all deserve the same respect for blind people whose disabilities can be seen.”
Although Fred is no longer allowed to fly, Froese said he will continue to take him to children’s hospitals, nursing homes and veteran homes to help bring smiles and comfort to those in need.
It may just have to drive to get there.