Gwen might be the most popular fixture at the Winterberry Charter School in Anchorage, Alaska ... and she's not even one of the students. The miniature horse is a service animal for 7-year-old Zaiden Beattie, and she's there to help him walk.
Beattie has a rare genetic disease called ataxia-telangiectasia, which will gradually affect both his balance and his muscle control. He will have to use a wheelchair at some point, the Alaska Dispatch News reports, and the disease will eventually be fatal.
Using a walker was an option for the little boy, but Beattie loves animals, and a service horse seemed like a much better choice: A helper who could also be a friend.
Beattie can rest his weight on Gwen's sturdy body whenever he needs to. The 7-year-old horse and her colt, Zoe, live in the family's backyard.
Beattie's classmates can't pet Gwen when she's wearing her harness, but at recess she takes a break and everyone loves to stroke her and braid her mane.