Mini Horses Sworn in as Deputies in North Carolina



Meet Sammy and Gunner, the newest deputies at the Pitt County Sheriff’s Office in Eastern North Carolina.

The two Miniature Horses are therapy horses from Rocking Horse Ranch, a therapeutic riding program in Greenville. Their new assignment is with a program called Building Bridges, which is a collaborative effort between the ranch, the sheriff’s office, and East Carolina University.

Building Bridges is a service offered to trauma victims and witnesses to traumatic events. Participants in the program will have the opportunity to get out of the city, visit the ranch, and spend time with the horses. The intent is to help them heal while building trust with officers from the sheriff’s office.


Researchers from ECU will study the program to gather information about what effect time with the Minis does for trauma victims.

“The great thing about working with Miniature Horses is that it is kidn of ground breaking,” Dr. Leigh Atherton, a professor at ECU, told WITN. “There is not that much research looking at Mini Horses and their use in a therapeutic way, especially in the way that we are looking at using it for this project.”

The partnership is already popular with the sheriff’s office. Last week, Gunner and Sammy had an official swearing-in ceremony at the Pitt County courthouse. They even wore official uniforms, originally designed for normal-sized humans but altered to be worn by Mini Horses. The trained therapy animals didn’t seem to mind the new threads.

Watch footage from the swearing-in ceremony here.

Find out more about Gunner, Sammy, and Rocking Horse Ranch at

Leslie Potter is a writer and photographer based in Lexington, Kentucky.



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