THREE partially sighted Inverclyde veterans are enjoying therapeutic horse riding lessons thanks to a Scottish charity.

John Currie and Eddie McKay from Greenock and Martin Lindsay of Port Glasgow attend the Scottish War Blinded activity hub, the Hawkhead Centre, in Paisley and joined other veterans in saddling up for riding sessions at Tannoch Stables in Cumbernauld.

John, 76, a Royal Engineers reservist, lost an eye to glaucoma in 1977 and he suggested the idea.

The senior citizen, who previously rode horses from his twenties onward, said: "When my sight started to go and I lost an eye, for a long time I just gave up.

"But horses saved my life and my sanity.

"Horse riding helped me get my confidence back.

"It’s very therapeutic.

"A couple of Scottish war blinded veterans at the Hawkhead Centre mentioned that they had always wanted to go on the back of a horse and it’s mushroomed from there.

“I wanted some of the other veterans to get something out of it like I have.

"I can see how happy they are with the horses, and that’s how I was with them too when I was in my darkest days.

“I’d thought my time on the horses was over when I lost my sight, but no.

"I have no peripheral vision but I have a wee letterbox of sight in the distance, which is great for horse riding.

"And the horse doesn’t know you have sight loss.

“The staff at Tannoch Stables have been very good with us.”

Eddie, 62, served with the Royal Engineers and was diagnosed with glaucoma in 2007.

He said: “I’ve really enjoyed coming to the stables, it’s brilliant and builds my confidence up.

"I hadn’t been on a horse for years, but as soon as you’ve been on a couple of minutes the confidence just comes back.

“I would never have thought of coming here on my own, that’s what’s great about Scottish War Blinded and the Hawkhead Centre.”

Martin, 82, who did his National Service with the Royal Artillery, said: “Horse riding was one of the things on my bucket list.

"In my second session I wanted to try and do better, without the fear or the nervousness.

" haven’t got rid of it yet, but it’s a lot better.

“Attending the Hawkhead Centre means that I’m not staying in the house - it gets me up and out of the house on a Tuesday and Thursday.

"You meet a lot of people and I’m trying things I haven’t tried before, and I’m more confident because of it.”

As a result of the sessions, the veterans have even completed their a riding proficiency test at grade 2.

Scottish War Blinded’s Hawkhead Centre provides a hugely varied programme of activities and day trips for veterans with sight loss, with everything from archery and cookery to art and woodwork.

With the horse riding sessions proving to be a hit, the staff are hoping to arrange further sessions for more veterans.

Rebecca Barr, director of Scottish War Blinded, said: “Sight loss does not mean that you have to stop trying new things.

“We are always open to activity ideas from our veterans, so we were delighted we were able to organise John’s suggestion of some horse riding sessions.

"It’s amazing to hear how the group’s confidence has grown.”

Dawn Harrison, of Tannoch Stables, said: “Although many of the group were apprehensive at first, it did not take them long to enjoy coming to Tannoch.

"To see their confidence rising was a joy to behold. "

* War Blinded gives free support to former servicemen and women of all ages, no matter if they lost their sight during or after service. Visit or call 0800 035 6409 to refer a veteran to the charity.