A Sabden man was treated to a surprise visit when his horse trotted into visit him at Pendleside Hospice.
Ian Smith, an inpatient at the Reedley-based hospice was stunned when he came face-to-face with his horse of four years Pepper in the hospice grounds on Monday.
The visit was organised for the 65-year-old who has motor neurone disease by his wife Sheila and staff at Moorview Equestrian Centre where Pepper lives.
Ian has been an inpatient at the hospice since January, following a spell of bad health after being diagnosed with the illness in August 2016.
Father-of-three Ian, who is a member of the ‘Galloping Grannies’ group at Moorview, rode Pepper every week until illness prevented him.
He said: “It was such a shock when I saw Pepper at the hospice, it really meant a lot to me. I’d like to say thank you to everyone for making it possible for Pepper to come down to Pendleside. She hasn’t been in a horse box since the day we got her, so she did really well and behaved perfectly.”
Ian’s wife Shelia and twin daughters Helen and Clare are keen horse riders, having ridden for many years. However, he only started riding at 52-years-old after being given horse riding lessons from his daughter Clare on her horse Fergal. Despite initial reservations he soon found he had a knack for it and started taking part in dressage competitions.
Since then Ian and Shelia have been on numerous riding holidays including a trip to Menorca and the Peak District.
He said: “I was never interested in riding when the children were younger. I just thought horses smelled badly and made a lot of mess. When I finally had a go myself I loved it, and thought well if you can’t beat them, join them!”
Sheila said: “The care given here at Pendleside is fantastic and for them to organise the visit from Pepper, alongside the help of Vicki and Ursula from Moorview, was just amazing. We’re so grateful for that and will remember it forever.”
Children from Sabden Primary School, where Ian and Sheila’s children attended, and their former teacher Mrs Thompson, also came face-to-face with Pepper, as the school’s visit to Pendleside Hospice coincided with the visit from Pepper.