Visually impaired man receives the UK's first ever guide HORSE

Andy Wells
·Freelance Writer
<em>Digby is the first guide horse in the UK (BBC)</em>
Digby is the first guide horse in the UK (BBC)

A visually impaired man with a phobia of dogs has become the first person in Britain to receive a guide HORSE.

BBC journalist Mohammed Salim Patel picked eight-month-old American miniature horse Digby to assist him on a daily basis.

The 23-year-old, from Blackburn, Lancashire, will now get help with regular household chores from Digby, who will help his new owner just like any guide dog.

<em>BBC journalist Mohammed Salim Patel has a phobia of dogs (BBC)</em>
BBC journalist Mohammed Salim Patel has a phobia of dogs (BBC)

Mr Patel told the Lancashire Telegraph: “I have always loved horses but it is good to see the benefits to people who are visually impaired.”

Digby, who currently stands at 2ft high, will grow no bigger than a large dog – but it will be a little while yet before he is ready to live at Mr Patel’s home.

Mr Patel, who has a degenerative eye condition called Retinitis Pigmentosa, added: “It will be a couple of years before he will be coming to live with me.

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“He needs to get used to being out and about in Blackburn.

“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.”

<em>Digby is no bigger than a regular dog and can live up to three times as long (BBC)</em>
Digby is no bigger than a regular dog and can live up to three times as long (BBC)

Miniature horses have long life spans and could stay with a the same person for up to three times as long as a dog could.

Guide horses are already in use in the United States but there are questions over whether they will eventually be given the same recognition as their canine counterparts.