Obama the pony – whose usual job is giving disabled people rides to inaccessible areas – has turned his hoof to ridding north-east beaches of litter.
The black and white horse from Pony Access took part in the East Grampian Coastal Partnership clean-up at the Waters of Philorth on Saturday along with his owner Simon Mulholland.
Along with volunteers from Surfers for Sewage, the Aberdeenshire Ranger, Aberdeenshire Council Landscape Services and a few others, marine litter was removed from the area.
Although the weight of rubbish removed from the dunes is unknown, beach litter officer Crawford Paris felt that the need to have Obama involved showed the severity of the problem.
He said: “The amount of stuff washing up is too much for volunteers alone to clear.
“It seems the problem is at a stage where we can’t manage with a handful of volunteers and this says a lot about the issue we’re facing.
“We’re having to search for alternative and quirky methods of pulling this litter from the beaches.
Obama of @ponyaccess carrying a load of #marinelitter this morning and thoroughly enjoying himself on #WorldOceanDay! #turningtheplastictide @nesflagEMFF @Aberdeenshire @marinescotland @cathgem2000 @KSBScotland @Grampian_Coast @SCRAPbook_Scot @he11yd @pressjournal @BBCNorthEast pic.twitter.com/Nwa90MXW2R
— EGCP – Turning the Plastic Tide (@TurnPlasticTide) June 8, 2019
“It’s a logistical challenge getting the heavy equipment like tractors, which we had this time from the landscaping services, so we’re finding alternatives like having Obama here.
“We don’t know the weight of this clean-up as it was all taken to different places but the weight doesn’t matter as much as the friendly, family atmosphere of the clean where we used horse power to remove litter.”
The environmental benefit of using horse-power instead of machinery also appealed to Obama’s owner Simon Mulholland.
The pair, as Pony Access, give disabled people rides to beaches, walks and areas which would otherwise be inaccessible.
But Mr Mulholland believes now they can do even more in relation to beach cleans and has many ideas for the future.
He said: “One of the things I do is take people to beaches and the family often come too as, otherwise, they can’t go without leaving the disabled person behind.
“A man I took said he hadn’t been to the beach since 1974 – I can’t imagine not going to the beach.
“But Pony Access can be more than walks as these disabled people could even get involved and the whole family can help clean the beach so it’s inclusive and environmental.
“Everyone can get involved and help clean the plastic and litter.
“It could be an engineering project for someone – making a heavily lifting system that can be used with ponies to remove litter.
“That way it would be environmentally friendly and the ponies would be happy as they’re happier and healthier when they’re in work.”