NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

A pony and 'chariot' give wheelchair users chance to explore new places

Pony in action
Image caption Obama the pony has been hard at work on the Aberdeenshire coast

"This has been better than I could ever have dreamt of. It'll keep me going for a long, long time."

Kathleen Robertson, who is paralysed from the neck down, cannot remember the last time she was at the beach.

However, thanks to Obama the pony and Simon Mulholland from Pony Axe S in Scotland, she and others can now do exactly that and more.

The pony and chariot allow people using wheelchairs to access many places they might otherwise never experience.

Simon and Obama travel from Paisley, taking their all-terrain vehicle right across Scotland.

Kathleen - who was paralysed as a result of multiple sclerosis (MS) and has been in a wheelchair for more than 10 years - has been able to enjoy the beach at St Cyrus National Nature Reserve in Aberdeenshire as a result.

Image caption Kathleen Robertson said she loved her experience

She told BBC Scotland's Landward: "I really can't remember the last time I went to the beach. I'm very excited.

"I was diagnosed in '07. And within nine months of being diagnosed I was wiped off my feet."

She said the outing with Obama gave her something to look forward to.

'Wonderful experience'

"I never thought that I would go to a beach again, but it just shows you that life in a wheelchair doesn't have to be miserable," she said.

"And I wouldn't be able to do this if I could walk, so maybe there's an advantage there."

She described it as a "wonderful experience".

Image caption Obama also seems to enjoy the beach visits

She said: "I just can't get the words to say how I feel, it's just magical."

Her advice to others who are given the opportunity is: "Grab it with both hands".

Simon explained his motivation for helping people with disabilities visit new places.

"I cannot imagine not being able to visit the countryside, and we're all potentially in a wheelchair," he says.

"I build safe horse-drawn vehicles," he explained.

"I can fit a seat on, wheel the wheelchair up the ramp, tie the wheelchair on, put the pony into the front, and you can go anywhere.

"We've got plenty of safety systems so if anything does happen that might scare him I just let him go, the vehicle stops, you're safe, and we'll get everything together and sort it out."

The last word on the pair goes to Kathleen.

"They're just amazing the two of them. They made my dreams come true."

You can see this story on Landward on BBC One Scotland on Friday at 19:30.

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