Lifestyle & Human Interest

Terminally Ill Equestrian Champion Granted 'Dying Wish' When Miniature Horse Visits Her in Hospital


Many girls have similar interests. They gravitate toward pink and ballerinas, playing house and baby dolls, and obsessing over unicorns and ponies. But when a girl is truly horse-crazy, you know right away.

Dolls get traded for Breyers. Kitchenettes get swapped for tack. And one day, whether it takes an especially generous birthday present or years of hard work and saving up, that girl will get a horse of her own.

The passion doesn’t fade, either — and Cecile Buckton of Adelaide Hills, South Australia, is the proof.

An avid rider, Buckton trained and competed in dressage for years. She became well-known in the area for her skills and prowess.

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Nothing could keep her from horses — nothing until she was diagnosed with cancer in 2014.

Just in her early 40s at the time, the mother of three and horse aficionado was struck with the news: stage 4 bowel cancer.

At first, Buckton wasn’t sure how her routines would change. Despite the heavy blow, she kept riding, finding a form of escape perched on her beloved horse named “Peanuts.”

“When I got diagnosed with bowel cancer I didn’t think I’d be able to ride him at all,” she said, according to 7News. “But being able to ride him kept me motivated.”

Buckton started to decline and has been receiving palliative care at Flinders Medical Centre, but even the best care couldn’t fill an emptiness left by her inability to be with horses.

According to 7News, knowing that her time was coming soon, the life-long horse-lover had one final request: to see and pet a horse before she passed.

Horses are not small creatures, and getting one into the hospital where Buckton was being cared for seemed an impossible task — but one of Buckton’s close friends, Janita, knew just what to do.

Enter Donna Buss and Lil’ Miss Moët from Nolton Park Horses Healing Hearts, a group that does therapy work with miniature horses.

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“Nolton Park takes miniature horses to nursing homes, Ronald McDonald house and even libraries for children’s reading programs,” the Nolton Park Horses Healing Hearts page reads.

While one of Buckton’s dressage horses would never have been able to navigate the halls, elevators, and equipment of the hospital to get to her, Lil’ Miss Moët was a prime candidate at only around 140 pounds and 27 inches tall, according to the Daily Mail.

“She’s a pretty incredible little pony,” Buckton said. “She behaved herself so well.”

“To actually see a horse walk into somebody’s room at a hospital was just precious,” Buss said.

Thanks to Buss and Moët, Buckton was able to hug, kiss and walk the little horse, fulfilling her final wish to satisfy her horse-crazy heart.

The Western Journal has reached out to both Cecile’s son Matt Buckton and Nolton Park Horses Healing Hearts for comment but has not yet received a response. We will update this article if and when we do.

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