Lori and Slim

Slim is 1600 pounds, has a blond mane and is an unlikely candidate to be a hospice volunteer. He stands in the hot sun, nuzzling hospice patient Lori Michaels, as she wipes away tears from her eyes. Visiting a horse was her dying wish, and today that wish is fulfilled.

Lori grew up around horses. Her uncle had scores of them on his farm in Washington State. She already has had regular visits from a hospice Pet Pal, a dog which she much enjoys. But Lori wanted to know if it was possible to visit the animal she most loves—a horse. Joyce Rosevear, Volunteer Coordinator and volunteer Kay Aaker were determined to make it happen and sent out the call to all the volunteers about finding a horse for a visit. It was a little daunting to try and take Lori out to a ranch, where dirt, rocks and uneven ground are a fall risk.

Today Lori felt well enough to go out. It was the hottest day of the year, and we just needed a horse! Emails and text messages were sent around—who has a horse today for a visit? Enter Sarah Pipkin, who volunteered her wonderfully sweet, beautiful horse Slim. Slim is a big horse! His mother was a Quarterhorse-Arabian mix and his father was a Belgian—a draft horse as big as a Clydesdale. Sarah met Slim at a summer camp, where he was a vaulting horse, which means he would trot around the ring in circles as kids would do gymnastics on his back. Sarah would sneak out after dark and ride him.

Years after she was grown up, she went back to her old camp and found that Slim was getting too old for vaulting and was to be sold, by the pound. Sarah jumped into action and rescued him!

Lori started her visit at the skilled nursing facility where she now lives. Even though it required great effort, she was determined to visit Slim. Everyone at the facility knew about the horse, and everyone wished her a great visit. She was so excited and everyone was excited for her. The ride to the ranch was short, and Slim was brought out of the paddock by Sarah, who had set up a chair for Lori under a shade tree, where even the heat of the day was pleasant. Lori knew just where to pet him, under his mane, along his nose and on his neck. Lori gave him some carrots which Slim much appreciated. Both were blissfully happy.

On the ride home, Lori said she was so happy it happened—a magical day with a beautiful horse!