working with a partially blind horse...??? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 4 Old 08-01-2012, 04:40 AM Thread Starter
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working with a partially blind horse...???

I have recently started working with a partially blind horse. Some small amount of background info.
He's about 8 or so, and very recently gelded. He was bred by his previous owners. He has minimal (shadows) to probably no sight in his left eye. This was suspected to have been done by a man. (horse is TERRIFIED of men.) He is a pretty high strung horse and has little understanding of personal space. He has a history of rearing and striking out at times. I have worked with him once (on the off side of course.) He did pretty darn well. He doesn't like to stand still or stop to where he can't see men. He has a lot of try and a good heart, just misunderstood I think. He was recently blinded. Can anyone give me any personal advice on working with a partially blind horse? Is there any special "trick" besides loads of trust and clear cues? Anything constructive would be much appreciated :) Thank you all. I look forward to some advice!!
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post #2 of 4 Old 08-01-2012, 09:47 AM
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Partially blind is far harder than fully blind - as they still vaguely see things that they don't recognize and it scares them. But you have the horse at a good time to start transitioning him to being handled before he's completely blind. Train him like as if he were perfectly find - just always remember to pay attention to his space too - don't let him bump into something - this will seriously loose you points.
I have a blind appaloosa and a nearly blind mini at our rescue. The appaloosa has a number of other issues - so He's here to stay until he passes - but after a great deal of work we got him comfortable with two people leading him from his stall to his field, where he would go out with another crippled gelding (who couldn't hurt him even if he wanted to) and together they found the hay and did well.
As for the mini - well she's young and full of vigor. My hope is to teach her to drive. The key is to remember they can't read your body language so everything must be a physical cu or verbal cue - put words to Everything! I use 'spin' for yielding her hind end 'over' for side stepping 'gi' and 'haw' for yielding her front end (or crossing over) as I hope to make her a carriage pony - I fully believe with her other mini friend she could drive pair - even if she is blind. And obviously all the other basic words you use when training - this will be the constant for this horse. But don't let his blindness limit his abilities! He can do anything so long as you don't say 'he can't do it he's blind'.
That being said - he's probably not going to be a stadium jumper xD but our mini knows how to jump a little bit - we use the word 'step up' so she knows to jump over ground poles and such - because we have a high partition in our barn she needs to get over to go to her stall. It's funny to watch her high stepping whenever she thinks we're close to it :P

Good luck with your horse - I'm sure with time and practice you'll begin to understand each other - just go about it like he's any other horse just paying extra care not to let him hurt himself and blame it on you. :)
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post #3 of 4 Old 08-01-2012, 06:21 PM
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I'd work on the fear of men part and not worry so much about the blind part. As long as you are aware of their space; you always let them know you are there by touch or sound; you don't expect anything less than what they already know and in fact expect more and they know they can trust you then it isn't an issue. Now the fear of something in particular can create problems, serious problems and lead to dangerous situations. If there is a male you can trust and that has a calm gentle nature I'd start by having him feed your horse on a regular basis so that they come to see that not all men are bad and some can be depended on for the basics. Once the horse is used to getting feed then have your male person start touching the horse as he feeds and build up to being able to stand near and brush or pet while eating. When you progress to the point that the horse accepts this and allows the male to touch without feed being part of the equation try having him put a halter on the horse. Slow stages and build up. Get him over the fear.We have a blind stallion that we work singly and as part of a team and have worked with several other blind horses both as working drafts or riding horses. It takes remembering at all times that you need to be as aware of their space as your own. Adding an abject fear of something on top of blindness is going to take a lot of time and patience to end up with a safe horse to be around. We've also had/have abused animals that are terrified of one gender or the other. We always work through that fear before we do anything else or ask anything else of them.
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post #4 of 4 Old 08-02-2012, 01:00 AM Thread Starter
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That is all really great advice!! Thank you so much. I hope to be working with him again soon, and hopefully get a man in the arena eventually
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