An ex-serviceman with a life-limiting condition got the chance to pat a pony from his front window after his nursing staff learned of his passion for horses.
Terry Davis, 65, who has a complex lung disease, was left feeling “special and loved” when physiotherapist Debra Alton brought her horse to his semi-detached property.
The NHS practitioner had discovered Terry once owned 15 horses before his illness had forced him to give them up while treating him at his home in Stockton, County Durham.
And she said their horse-based discussions during his sessions had given him a lot of “comfort” and taken his mind off thoughts about his deteriorating health.
So Debra decided to surprise grandad Terry by bringing her 21-year-old horse Riley up to his front window before inviting him to feed and stroke him.
Terry, who continues to be cared for by the team at his home, said about the experience: “I was so happy and humbled to receive a visit from Deb’s horse.
“I can’t believe someone would do that for me – it made me feel very special and loved.”
Debra added: “Members of the palliative care team will always try to help our patients and families and this is one thing that they thought would never happen.
“The whole experience was amazing.
“Terry did not know it was happening and his wife Janet just said that she had a surprise for him.
“Terry was completely overwhelmed, as were his family and others watching on.”
Debra, who is part of the care team at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, said Terry’s interest in horses had emerged through their chats.
She said: “During my conversations with Terry it became clear his passion for his love of horses.
“Terry owned up to 15 horses at one point – but sadly had to find new homes for them due to his deteriorating health.
“We often exchanged experiences during his physiotherapy sessions about them and this gave Terry a lot of comfort talking about normal life situations rather than the constant reminder about his ill health and made him feel like a normal person.”
Debra said she’s always “joked” about bringing her 21-year-old castrated male horse, known as a gelding, to see Terry but had turned this into a reality on January 12.
She said: “I always joked about that one day I was going to bring my horse to meet him and that I would just turn up with my trailer and he could see him from the window.
“But then thought I actually could make this happen and offered to bring her own horse, Mr Riley, who is a 21year-old gelding to Terry’s front garden to meet him, with the consent from his family.
“I have my own transport so I knew I could make this happen.”
Terry was able to stroke and feed Mr Riley from the open window in his front room, with his wife Janet saying he was completely “overwhelmed” by the occasion.
She said: “Terry was very overwhelmed by it all – we couldn’t believe how you went above and beyond to do all that for him, it was unbelievable.
“What a memory. The family were so grateful it was amazing!”
Debra said that Mr Riley was also pleased to meet Terry.
She added: “I think if Mr Riley was invited in he would have quite happily gone in the house!
“Horses have been widely used for their therapeutic qualities with a wide variety of people with disabilities and post-traumatic stress disorders.”