A campaign group aiming to bring accessible horse-drawn beach transport to Lewis and Harris is gathering pace.
Paisley-based Simon Mulholland has teamed up with Traigh Mhor Pony Trekking in Tolsta to bring a wheelchair-accessible beach buggy to the islands this summer.
Along with the unusual all-terrain chariot comes Obama the pony, trained to take the buggy and its passenger on sand, through water and over rough ground, a trip-of-a-lifetime for disabled passengers.
Simon and Obama’s operation is called Pony Axe S, and offers to “take people who use wheelchairs to all the places where wheelchairs can’t take them. No need to transfer to all terrain or beach wheelchairs, no need to leave your wheelchair behind. We take you, in your wheelchair, anywhere.”
The all-inclusive experience has caught the eye of Leigh Minion and her colleagues at Traigh Mhor Trekking, and a new social media group was set up last week (Thursday May 2nd) with the aim of bringing Pony Axe S to the Western Isles. The plan is to fundraise so that anyone who wants to ride out on the buggy can do so, without being concerned about cost.
Leigh said: “This opens our countryside and our beautiful island to all of us including people who use wheelchairs, and people with limited mobility. We want to gauge the interest, and demand, so Simon is bringing Obama to demonstrate what is possible.”
The plan is for Pony Axe S to visit the islands for a week from August 10th, offering try-out sessions to disabled people on beaches which could include Uig sands, Luskentyre and Traigh Mhor itself.
If the trial is successful, Leigh is even considering working with Simon to get a similar buggy and training an island-based pony to do a similar job to Obama.
She said: “Trekking has allowed people from all walks of life the opportunity to learn and enjoy horse riding. There really is nothing more exhilarating than riding along a beach. Working with Pony AxeS, Simon and Obama will give us an opportunity to allow everyone a chance to places where they could not get to before in a safe, controlled but equally exhilarating environment.”
You can find out more about plans for Obama and Simon’s visit to the isles via the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/groups/279389446279336/
Picture of Simon and Obama on previous trip around the UK from https://ponyaxes.com