North West Wales

'Donkey ambulance' saddles developed in Wales helping mothers

A donkey with an inflatable saddle carrying a woman Image copyright SaddleAid

An inflatable saddle for donkeys developed in Wales is helping mothers-to-be in some of the remotest parts of the world.

The saddles were initially piloted in 2012, to help transport women in labour in mountainous regions of Afghanistan.

SaddleAid, based on Anglesey, has been working with their donkey 'Queenie' to help adapt and improve the design.

"They can be used for a range of different activities," said Peter Muckle, from SaddleAid.

These include "carrying women who are in labour to the nearest medical facility to using the saddle to enable people with mobility issues to experience horse, pony or donkey riding," he said.

The fully inflated saddle weighs about 8kg (18lb) and provides a frame which can be sat in, with a quick release mechanism that makes it easy to get off the donkey.

Image copyright SaddleAid
Image caption The saddles can also be used to give people with mobility issues the experience of donkey riding

SaddleAid aim to train local people to make the saddles, using low-cost and easily available materials.

Hub Cymru Africa, funded by the Welsh government, is supporting the project, which will begin trialling the saddles in parts of northern Ethiopia.

"The time to get to the facilities can often put both the mother and baby at risk, so a device like this can make a real difference when access to roads and vehicles is often not possible, but where many families have access to a horse, pony or donkey," said Cat Jones, Head of Partnership at Hub Cymru Africa.

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