Wallaby- thank you so much for replying. I probably will pm you. How long have you had your horse? When did she start to go blind? Do you ride her? How does she react in scary situations since she can't see. That's my biggest fear. She is a well bred quarter horse and I would like to do some showing with her. But I'm afraid that bringing her into unknown situations wouldn't be fair to her. What are your thoughts on showing a blind horse?
I read that entire website like three times. It has some really great information! There are definitely things that you never think about- like I was leading her and I stopped but she didn't and she ran right into me. I felt so bad because it was totally my fault! It would definitely be a tough for both of us. But it seems that owners of blind horses do seem to have a very special bond :)
And I'll definitely try to find more on your stories :) thanks!
Anytime! :) I remember being in shoes similar to yours and it was really scary!
I've had my girl for 4 years as of last July. She was 23 when she was given to me and she's about to turn 28 in February. :)
From what I can tell, she's always had some vision loss in the time I've had her - her previous owners conveniently "forgot" to tell me anything about her medical history before they, of course, disappeared off the face of the earth!
However, I had no idea that she had any vision loss until last April - I had wondered but she did well enough that I figured I was just being overprotective. Then last April she had a very severe flare up (she has a disease called "Equine Recurrent Uvietis" or "Moon Blindness") and, in less than two days, had gone from functionally sighted to mostly blind, and ended up being diagnosed with ERU. That was such a scary time for both of us. Thankfully we already had a strong bond which I really think helped. There was still a pretty intense transition period but, as far as transition periods go, it could have been much worse.
I did ride her quite regularly up until she tore a suspensory playing in her pasture this last fall (one of the risks you run with a blind horse - they are more likely to twist or pull something) and I have high hopes to be back riding her this spring/early summer if her leg holds up (she's currently sound but I'm giving it time to heal as much as possible).
She does have difficulty with arena work (we trail ride/rode) but I think that's more of a personality thing as well as a lack of knowledge on my part thing (she relies on me A LOT for balancing cues and I find it much easier to focus on those things going down the trail vs in a static environment for some reason). I've heard really amazing stories of people with blind horses getting involved in things like dressage and doing really amazing stuff. Riding a blind horse is very different than riding a sighted horse - it's like you're becoming a centaur for however long you're riding since you're the eyes and the horse is the body/movement. After riding a blind horse for so long, whenever I get the chance to ride sighted ones I have the hardest time not manhandling the whole ride like I would have to with Lacey!
But once I relax, I always realize how much easier it is (but less fun - less connected somehow)! hahaha
As far as showing goes, that depends on her relationship with you - I think. My girl, I'm all the time riding her through neighborhoods, behind garbage trucks, around dogs barking behind fences, kids screaming, etc and she could care less. BUT she knows that I'm watching out for her and taking care of the "issues". If I put an inexperienced rider on her and ask her to take on those same challenges, she'd absolutely refuse. She's actually the most bombproof horse I've ever had the chance to meet and most of that is just because if I stay cool, she stays cool. It doesn't matter what is going on, as long as I act like I could care less. If I get excited though...not a good idea.
But yeah, give showing a try! I would not be surprised if she was fantastic at it. Just go slow, introduce her to everything, stay laid back, build a strong bond first, and you'll do fine. I think with seeing horses, the big thing is the change in locale but for a blind horse, the location doesn't so much matter as much as YOU do. You are going to end up being her "guide human" so how you approach the world is how she'll approach the world.
Aw, that's such a cute story, I've had the same thing happen. haha She's lucky to have someone so invested in her. You sound like the perfect owner for her. :)