//Horse Digby. The first guide horse of the United Kingdom
The horse Digby

Horse Digby. The first guide horse of the United Kingdom

We have seen over the years quantities of guide dogs properly trained to make life easier for people with different disabilities. However it is unusual for a horse to be a guide, this can be a bit far-fetched due to its large size. However, there is a very renowned case and the one we will deal with today. It is about the horse Digby the first guide horse of the United Kingdom.

As we mentioned, it seems that a horse as a guide is strange because of its size. However, there is a variant that are miniature horses. Still compared to the size of the dog it’s still a bit strange. Therefore, a great reason to continue investigating and deepening in relation to this wonderful milestone in the history of animals that give their support and guidance to people with disabilities. In this case of the horse Digby is the first guide horse in the United Kingdom.

Meet Digby, the UK's first guide horse | ITV News

In principle the American miniature horse Digby was trained to facilitate some tasks to a journalist of the BBC Mohammed Salim Patel this boy has a degenerative visual disability. For this reason, a horse has been chosen because he has a phobia of dogs, which is why he never had an animal for assistance. However, Katy Smith, the owner and instructor of the miniature horse Digby, showed her the idea of ​​having a guide horse and the journalist liked it.

Now, the miniature horse Digby will wear a special outfit called thunder pants when he is in his work hours. These special pants allow you to collect your defecation in a bag for proper disposal.

Role of Katy Smith, guide miniature horse trainer

Coach Katy Smith is not limited to training miniature horses to serve as a guide for people with disabilities. She also offers consultations of assisted therapy with horses in the spaces where she lives.

Additionally, she makes a very valuable contribution by taking these therapy horses to health centers, nursing homes and long-stay units for patients with chronic mental illnesses.

Guide dogs provide their valuable help to many people who suffer from visual impairment. This animal serves as a fundamental tool so that people can move with a certain level of independence and without risks.

Now, miniature horses are being trained to perform the same functions as guide dogs. This is very favorable since there are people who have a phobia of dogs as is the case of the visually impaired journalist Mohammed Salim Patel

Miniature Horse Comparison
Miniature Horse Comparison

The horse Digby is an American miniature race that became a landmark for being the first guide horse in the United Kingdom in the process of training.

The training of the horse Digby happened to learn elementary instructions. Among these instructions are the following:

  • Bring forward
  • Wait
  • Immobilize
  • Wait for traffic
  • Cross the street
  • Go in a straight line
  • Locate a mailbox

As it has grown, it becomes taller, that is, not so miniature, so you can find the opening to publish the letter. He also manages to climb to a crossroads and press the button where he must make time for the icon of a green man to cross the street.

The horse Digby
The horse Digby

Skills learned by the miniature horse Digby

  • The miniature horse Digby in his role as a guide is trained to go to the bank and board a train with total serenity.
  • In addition to the ability to travel the busy streets of London
  • He was trained for the movement and noise of the capital, as he was specially trained to become a guide for Helena Hird, a visually impaired staff member from the Office of National Statistics.
  • The Digby miniature horse, measuring approximately 33 inches tall. Little by little the horse Digby became familiar with subway trips as well as entering restaurants to help Helena do errands, go to work, go shopping.
  • In addition also the idea is that she managed to socialize, giving more security and independence to leave home.

Helena the lucky woman who has the first guide horse in the United Kingdom

The lucky British Helena, has the suffering of Stargardt, unfortunately began to lose his vision a decade ago. The advantage for Helela is that she has lived surrounded by horses so her inclination to have a guide horse really fascinated her. However, when he mentioned the subject, it seemed that people were not very willing to accept him socially.

After some time passed Helena, made contact with Katy. All this after seeing information in the media related to the Digby miniature horse.

Precisely at that time the horse Digby was being trained for the reporter Mohammed Salim Patel. The reason was just that this boy had a phobia of dogs. Helena’s interest in having a guide horse made her take the initiative to contact Katy. Helena wanted to know the process to have this benefit.

This is how, little by little, the guide horse has become involved in Helena’s activities. On one occasion he attended an awards ceremony with Helena.

One reason that keeps its owner optimistic is that it will be her partner for the rest of her life, since American miniature horses can live to be 50 years old, according to the Guide Horse Foundation. This also facilitates the process of emotional bonding and adaptation between the guide animal and who it supports.

Helena and horse Digby
Helena and horse Digby

Guide Horse Foundation


The prestigious Guide Horse Foundation was founded two decades ago. This institution was created in 1999. Its mission is to provide a safe, practical and loyal movement option for people with visual disabilities. All this through the use of miniature horses as assistance animals.

Katy Smith’s initiative in forming guide horses

When unpleasant experiences happen, it is very common for people to sink into sadness and even depression. However, there are people with a high level of resilience. This is the case of Katy Smith who suffered a riding accident. In this incident he broke his back so this prevented him from continuing with his normal life.

Due to the traumatic event, Katy made the decision to make a valuable contribution to society. This initiative arises from the experience with a Pony in a care home where his father was residency. Nowadays Katy has a team of guide horses that carry out a great job.

This project implies a great commitment. For this reason the foundation of guide horses supports the following motto “the blind entrust their lives to horses”.

The fundamental reason for the training work of the horse Digby revolved around desensitization. Also, prepare it for people and sounds. Also educating him so that he is calm in environments that could cause fright to an equine.

Side thinking to help others

The initiative to train miniature horses as guides for people with visual disabilities represents an alternative.

These initiatives often generate doubts and ridicule. But for these people who are afraid of dogs, however, it is promising because it is an alternative to have an animal of reasonable size. Miniature horses, like the horse Digby, can tackle the same tasks that a canine can do.

At the same time, he amazes us with his intelligence and nobility towards human beings. Animals definitely have a lot to teach us humans. As for that capacity for surrender, empathy and unconditional love that these wonderful beings emanate.

We cannot think in the same way to solve new problems. We must be able to apply lateral thinking to obtain disruptive results. “The horse Digby” is thinking again and in a new way to get jumps in our paradigms. Think again …

Digby the guide horse visits Metro






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