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WATCH: UK's first guide horses meet care home residents

guide horse digby meets frieda

Published by Lizzy McEllan at 2:39pm 8th February 2019. (Updated at 4:11pm 8th February 2019)

Residents at Tate House care home in Harrogate today enjoyed a very special visit from the UK's first ever guide horses.

  • Digby and Taz, from Northallerton, are the first guide horses in the UK
  • Today they visited care home residents at Tate House in Harrogate as part of their training
  • They can use steps, open doors, push buttons, find post boxes, travel by train and go into supermarkets!

Digby and Taz met blind and partially sighted residents, as part of their guide horse training.

The pair live in Northallerton with owner and trainer, Katy Smith, and have been trained to up and down steps, open doors, push buttons, find post boxes, travel by train, and go into supermarkets.

guide horse taz meets tate house care home residents
Guide horse-in-training, Taz, charming Tate House care home residents

Tate House residents were delighted to meet the pair, who were happy to meet everyone individually.

Resident Inga Little, said:

"I feel we are making history - the first guide horses in England!

"I'm speechless about it, I can't really express how I feel.

"I can't believe that they're horses!

"I think it's amazing, I really do. And I admire the trainers, their patience is endless."

Guide horses Digby and Taz meet care home residents in Harrogate

Owner and trainer, Katy Smith, who runs a pony therapy business, decided to start breeding and training guide horses after finding out the idea is already popular in America.

She said:

"I noticed when I was looking in America for miniature horses to do therapy, that they had guide horses over there, and I thought that would be a brilliant idea.

"I bred Digby because I wanted to know exactly where he'd come from.

"He's so intelligent and is like a dog - he just wants to learn."

Digby, who is 19-months-old, is in the final months of his training and is set to move to London to live with new owner, Helena. 

19-month-old Digby, who is set to move to London
19-month-old Digby, who is set to move to London

He will travel on the tube and live in stables in her garden, as well as spending time in her house.

Katy added he will have equine friends too, so he doesn't get lonely.

Guide horse Taz, who's still in training, meeting care home residents
Guide horse Taz, who's still in training, meeting care home residents

Taz is still in training and has a little while to go before becoming a fully qualified guide horse.

Tate House resident, Frieda Brown, loved meeting the pair. 

She said:

"They're lovely to stand and stroke.

"They're very friendly and they love to listen - they move their ears and you know they're listening to you.

"You're at one with them, it's just lovely."

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