Chariot gives disabled boy new lease of life

  • A nine-year-old disabled boy can’t wait to get out and about with his pony this summer, thanks to specially adapted equipment bought for him by a childrens’ charity.

    Ethan Smith from the Wirral has congenital myopathy, a rare muscle disorder which makes walking difficult.

    He cannot ride his 16-year-old pony Bee as sitting on her dislocates his hips and knees.

    But he is now driving Bee round the fields in an iBex Saddlechariot supplied by the charity, Dreams Come True.

    The tailor-made all-terrain vehicle enables people in wheelchairs to drive ponies independently.

    Ethan driving Bee in the iBex Saddlechariot

    Bee accepted the iBex straight away said Ethan’s mother, Andrea.

    “She took to it like a pro with no hesitation whatsoever, which is quite unusual for a pony that has never been trained to pull a vehicle,” she said.

    Andrea’s other two children, Brooke, seven, and Faith, four, are also disabled and are enjoying driving Bee in the “iBex.”

    The family have had Bee for seven years.

    “Bee understands Ethan, they have such a unique bond and they really trust each other and adapt to each other naturally,” said Andrea.

    The much-loved pony is kept in a field close to the family’s house.

    The iBex Saddlechariot was engineered by Nick Sanders at Rowan Oak Livery in Brecon.

    Mr Sanders said: “It gives people in wheelchairs the independence to drive ponies in full safety as it incorporates a unique quick release system. This invention incorporates both a wheelchair ramp and a seating unit.”

    Ethan is able to drive his pony directly from his power chair or be lifted and put in to the seating unit with his sisters.

    His mother Andrea described the iBex as “life-changing” and said it will enable Ethan “to get out and have fun in the fresh air all year round”.

    NB: Horse & Hound recommends that horses are broken to drive before being introduced to pulling any type of carriage and that drivers wear appropriate safety clothing including gloves and a safety hat.

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