UK joins growing trend away from guide dogs with first-ever guide horse

UK joins growing trend away from guide dogs with first-ever guide horse
Photo credit: Facebook/KL Pony Therapy

A visually impaired man will become the first in the UK to use a guide horse instead of a guide dog, due to his deep fear of dogs.

Mohammed Salim Patel, 23, will be paired with eight-month-old American Miniature Horse Digby, the Lancashire Telegraph reports.

It will take a couple of years before he's on the trot with Digby, who needs training to perform tasks like leading Mr Patel around town.

Digby is also currently in the process of being toilet-trained, an important skill for any guide animal.

Current owner Katy Smith, from North Yorkshire, says a guide horse, instead of a guide dog, is a better option for some people.

"There are about 14 training in America to help visually impaired people and they have a long life-span, as they can live until 45 or 50 years old," she told the Lancashire Telegraph.

"You may have to have two or three guide dogs and then you have to think about the emotional bond to them."

Mr Patel is excited to live with Digby, although he understands they both have a bit to learn and adjustments will need to be made when he arrives.

"He needs to get used to being out and about Blackburn," he said.

"I also think I will have to give myself an extra hour to try to get around my daily routine, as people will all want to come and see it, and touch it."

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