SHOPPERS in Blackburn had a tale to tell today after one of the UK’s first assistance horse came to town to meet up with its new owner.

Mohammed Salim Patel, 23, is visually impaired and instead of having a guide dog to help him, he will have an American miniature horse to help make his life better.

He met up with two foot tall Digby but it may be a while before we will see him on the streets of Blackburn again after he made an appearance on BBC Radio Lancashire.

Mr Patel said: “I have a condition where I lost my vision and I have come across lots of people who have guide dogs.

“But 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.

“It will be a couple of years before he will be coming to live with me as he has training to do.

“He needs to get used to being out and about 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.”

Owner Katy Smith, from Northallerton, North Yorkshire, believes Digby will be great for him.

She said: “There are about 14 training in America to help visually impaired people and they have a long life-span as they can live until 45 or 50 year old.

“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.

“We are working with the Environment Agency to get them to understand Digby is toilet trained.”