Hospice visit that meant so much to horse lover

A man on his death bed was granted his dying wish – to feed a horse one last time.

Patrick Saunders, 87, had spent most of his adolescence around horses, and began his working life at a stable.

He always had a strong connection with the animals, so while in North Devon Hospice’s care, the staff decided to arrange for him to pet and feed a horse one last time.

They contacted a local equine rescue centre that arranged for Victor, a large stallion, to visit Patrick in his final days.

On the day, Patrick, of Braunton, Devon, was not well enough to get out of bed to pet the horse, so staff at the hospice wheeled his bed outside. From bed, Patrick fed Victor a handful of apples, carrots and polo mints.

Patrick’s daughter, Jayne, arrived to see him stroking the gentle animal outside the hospice, and said: “I simply didn’t expect him to have an experience like that at the hospice.

“He’d had a couple of bad days and wasn’t himself at all, but he was absolutely full of beans. You could see the joy on his face from being able to interact with such a gorgeous animal.

“When they told me a horse was coming to visit Dad, I thought that maybe he would be able to see the animal from his balcony. I had no idea he would be able to get so close.

“But that’s what the hospice is all about, going above and beyond. People can be fearful of the word ‘hospice’, unless you know better, as we do now. It’s something I’ll never forget.”

Patrick passed away just three days later.

This article first appeared in the Independent. To get the latest articles when they appear, buy the print edition every Sunday or subscribe to our online edition HERE.