Horse’s visit gives critically ill father ‘encouragement to keep fighting’

  • A rider who took her gelding home to visit her critically ill dad said it  “gave him encouragement to keep fighting”.

    Lauren Christie, 21, from West Sussex, took her 15.1hh Irish sports horse Bailey to visit her dad Ricky on 14 April.

    Lauren, who formerly worked as a nanny for showjumper Robert Whitaker before becoming her dad’s carer, told H&H: “My dad had a bad car crash 10 years ago and broke his neck, pelvis and femur. His lungs were crushed and he developed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma.

    “His COPD has got worse and a month ago he got really sick and was rushed to hospital. I was in the ambulance with him and we had to stop the ambulance because he had a cardiac arrest. The doctors said he wouldn’t make it through the night but he pulled through, but now we have been told he won’t recover.”

    Lauren said her dad is receiving palliative care.

    “I used to do Pony Club shows when I was little and my dad was there at every step of the way. He loves seeing pictures of Bailey so I wanted to bring him home so my dad could meet him,” she said.

    “I hacked home and put Bailey in the garden. My dad was so pleased to see Bailey, he got to stroke and feed him through the window – it really made my dad’s day and it brought colour back in his face.”

    Lauren said Bailey, who was well-behaved on his visit, is the horse for her following a “tough journey”.

    “Bailey is the one – I’m so glad I have him. I had a bad fall two years ago with a different horse, and then I bought a mare called Lemon, who I lost two months later to colic. I then had a horse who was supposed to be a schoolmistress but she turned out not to be, and last year I got Bailey,” she said.

    “He hadn’t done much and had spent a few years in a field before I got him but now we go out and do a bit of everything together. I usually hack to shows but I’ve now passed my trailer test and hope to get my own transport.”

    Lauren, who is riding the Cowdray sponsored ride in Midhurst on 12 May to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support which provides care for her dad, plans to take Bailey home to visit her dad regularly.

    “It really cheered my dad up meeting Bailey. He seemed like a different person for a couple of hours; it was so nice to see,” she said. “I truly believe it gave my dad some encouragement to keep fighting so I’m going to keep bringing Bailey home and try to keep him fighting for as long as possible. My dad can’t wait to see him again.”

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