A visually impaired BBC journalist from Blackburn, Lancashire who is terrified of dogs is to get the U.K.'s first ever guide horse, who will help with improving his mobility and carrying out daily tasks.
23-year-old Mohammed Salim Patel who has a degenerative eye disorder is due to receive an eight-month-old American Miniature horse called Digby, who is currently being trained for his future role.
"I have a big phobia of dogs that I was not able to work out and it was good when I heard about horses being trained. I have always loved horses but it is good to see the benefits to people who are visually impaired," Patel told the Lancashire Telegraph.
The horse currently lives with its owner Katy Smith at the Northallerton Equestrian Center.
"Guide horses give those with visual impairments a choice when it comes to having a pet to assist them," Smith said.
"Another thing is that people may have an allergy, phobia, or to health reasons and it is a choice for people," she added.
Guide horses, which are already used by some visually impaired people in the U.S., are an alternative mobility option for blind people who do not wish to or cannot use a guide dog.
Proponents say horses are arguably more appropriate for guiding work due to their longevity. American miniature horses have an average life span of 25-30 years, while that of a Labrador is 10-14 years.
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