To occupy the hours people spend stranded before and between flights, most airports are filled with cafes, bars, and shops for entertainment. But Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in Boone County, Kentucky, provides something very different (and much cuter): horses.
Ohio's Seven Oaks Farm sends two miniature horses to the airport twice a month to not only give people something to do, but also help calm down nervous fliers. People of all ages gather to take pictures with the equine companions, and they don't seem to mind. Some passengers even book their flights based on when the horses will be there.
The animals have "made [passengers] feel much better, kind of calmed down, took a deep breath," the Seven Oaks Farm therapy horse program's founder and president Lisa Moad told NPR. "A lot of them thank us for being there at that time because they needed that little bit of support before they get on the plane."
"It's just to ease anxiety levels, put smiles on faces. Clearly that's working," echoed airport official Wendi Orlando. "When you look at the passengers walking by, it just never gets old. They love seeing the horses."
The airport was inspired by other airports that already have therapy animals. SFO in San Francisco even houses a therapy pig. LiLou is part of SFO's "Wag Brigade," which also includes several dogs. She runs around "greeting people with her snout or a wave, twirling and standing up on her back hooves, and playing a toy piano," USA Today reports. Airports aren't about to turn into petting zoos, though — dogs are still way more common.
Recognizing the therapeutic potential of horses, Seven Oaks Farm also sends theirs to nursing homes, college campuses during finals, and other places where people could use comfort. We hope other airports catch on to this trend, because even for those of us comfortable with flying, having horses around would make layovers a lot less tedious.