A blind man is to become the first person in the UK to get a guide horse, because he is scared of dogs.
Mohammed Salim Patel, 23, has a degenerative condition called Retinitis Pigmentosa, and had given up hope of having a guide animal as he has a phobia of dogs.
But in a couple of years he’ll have his own miniature horse to help him around the streets of his hometown Blackburn, in Lancashire.
Digby, an eight-month-old American miniature horse, is being trained for Mr Patel by Katy Smith, from Northallerton in North Yorkshire.
His training will take another couple of years but Digby will be able to help his owner in much the same way as a guide dog.
"I have always loved horses but it is good to see the benefits for people who are visually impaired," Mr Patel told the Lancashire Telegraph.
"He needs to get used to being out and about in Blackburn.
"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."
Horses have a longer lifespan than dogs, living to be between 45 and 50 years old, which some have argued makes them a more appropriate lifelong companion for blind people.
Ms Smith, who runs KL Pony Therapy, said: "You may have to have two or three guide dogs and then you have to think about the emotional bond to them.
"Another thing is that people may have an allergy, phobia or for health reasons and it is a choice for people."
She added that Digby wears nappies and is toilet trained.
Mr Patel told The Guardian that despite only having met Digby once before their last training session in Blackburn, his future furry companion remembered him well.
He added: "He rubbed his neck against my leg and stood next to me, which apparently is a sign.
"I’m amazed at how good his temperament is, despite the fact he’s only eight months old."
(c) Sky News 2018: Blind man scared of dogs to get UK’s first guide horse