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A special saddle has been created to help women in labour reach hospitals in remote areas overseas.

SaddleAid’s emergency saddle features an inflatable pillow that sits all the way round the rider for support.

The saddle has been in use since it was initially tested in Balkh province of Afghanistan in 2012 and has been adapted several times following feedback from locals.

Donkeys are a vital lifeline in these areas, as even if a 4×4 is available, the mountainous passes are often too steep for motorised vehicles.

“The saddle is designed to keep the rider still, comfortable and warm at the same time,” said Peter Muckle of SaddleAid.

“If something goes wrong in the mountains they’re a long way from help. The saddle allows them to be taken to hospital as quickly and as comfortably.

“It’s also really comfortable for the animal. They have gone down really well.”

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Peter has been working on the design for four years using his own donkey Queenie.

The saddle, which is suitable for donkeys, mules and ponies, weighs about 8kg and features a quick release mechanism that makes it easy to get off the animal.

Formerly, donkeys had been carrying far heavier saddles that used two stuffed sacks to support the women — each weighing around 20kg.

Peter recently saddles to northern Ethiopia to be tested and hopes to introduce it to further locations.

He is in the process of creating a pattern that local people can use to create their own saddles using affordable and readily available materials.

For more information visit: www.saddleaid.org