Herdbound or just being blind/old?
So, as a lot of you know, I just got a foster horse for the summer (she may end up being a foster into the winter too because she's meshing SO well with how I want my horses to be but anyway).
The foster's not the issue at all. As long as she's near me, she could care less about Lacey or anything else that's going on. If anything, she's jealous of my attention.
The issue is my dear old lady Lacey. For those who don't know, she's basically 85% blind (if not more) and what she can see is extremely blurry and dark (from what we can surmise). Everything beyond about 15ft away from her is pretty much invisible, but within that 15ft she can see basic blurry shapes/movement.
I'm also pretty sure that she can't hear all too well either. Before the foster came, she'd be standing by the gate waiting for me to come see her and I could call to her as I was walking down with no response from her. Then, when she finally saw my movement/heard me calling, she'd usually half startle because she had no clue that I was there even though I had been calling.
Anyway, I've been finding that while Lady - the foster - is fine with being away from Lacey, Lacey throws a fit when I take Lady away from her (Lacey's definition of a "fit" is neighing+nickering as loudly as possible, pawing, dancing around when tied, trotting/cantering around in a panicked way if she's loose, but nothing seriously bad - no pulling back/busting through things, bolting, whatever).
I can easily correct her+bring her back to me when I'm working with her and she KNOWS that that behavior is unacceptable all the time so she will stop if I really get on her case (basically, go back to her, say "AH-AH!!" and jerk on her halter if the "ah-ah" didn't work, then when I walk away she'll stay pretty calm, or at least contain herself, for 10+ minutes) but I feel absolutely terrible doing that to her when I know that all she's trying to do is find her buddy/protection.
She did similar things before the other horse came - nickering/whinnying for me, dancing around when tied, if I went out of her sight or she didn't know where I had gone.
I guess the thing is that she rightly doesn't have much confidence in herself to keep herself safe and she rightly has confidence in the other horse or me to "protect" her from dangers and so she's expressing these things in the only ways she can...
But, those behaviors could get to be dangerous for herself, and for others, and I would hate for anything to happen because she's worried, you know?
I'm thinking the answer might to just basically let her be, correct her when necessary and don't let her get out of hand but also be understanding of her condition.
She's extremely respectful of the rules, she knows what the rules are, and she tries her hardest to abide by the rules (including "NEVER move when you blanket is being put on" - that was put to the test last night, I was blanketing her and the foster was being super annoying so I had to really get on the foster's case, then when I turned back around, Lacey was still in the exact position I had left her in looking like "Please, help me out here.") so it's not like she's being disrespectful or anything, she's just worried.
And I realize that these are starting to be some of the signs that she might need to "go" sooner rather than later. Believe me when I say that when her life becomes 51% fear and 49% joy, I will have her put down immediately. Right now I think we're pretty solidly sitting at 95% joy and 5% fear so the Rainbow Bridge is not an option just yet. But I am aware that it's coming and I am assessing her being on a regular basis for changes that might signal that it's time.
That's actually part of why I got this foster. I chose a mare with Lacey's favorite color, the color of Lacey's previous longterm best friend who was put down a few years ago, so that if she does end up "going" sooner rather than later, maybe she'll get to go feeling protected by another horse who she thinks is her bestest friend of all time.
Forgive me for the novel, I just love this horse.
you and your horse are just a treasure. I just love reading about your observations and thoughts and conclusions. I am more certain than ever that you'll figure these things out as the time comes. without a doubt.
Your confidence without arrogance is really inspiring.
I have very limited experience with horses partially blind or going blind. But from what I can surmise is that she doesn't like being alone and so when she loses sight of her new friend or you she panics and gets very frisky and excited.
I don't think it's her being herd sour at all :(
Aw Caroline... I have nothing to say... :oops: Thanks, your words mean a lot.
AND my teeth just ALL fell out! You're just THAT sweet! :lol: :hug:
Thanks Maggie for your thoughts! I find myself kind of complaining inside about how HF doesn't seem to have anyone really familiar with blind horses...then I realize that maybe I'm "in training" to be "that person" for someone in the future... :shock: :rofl:
On the plus side, I think Lacey was maybe initially worried that her buddy was going to go away again because she seems to be really settling. Today she had a really great lesson where she was basically unable to see Lady (Lady was down, tied to the shed, about 50ft away from where Lacey was "working" - well beyond where Lacey'd be able to see her) and neither mare put up any kind of fuss!
Lacey nickered to Lady when the lesson was done and she was brought back down to the shed, but during the lesson there was no neighing or rushing around or any sort of panicked-type behavior. :D She listened to her rider, did exactly what was asked (and in a much more polished fashion than her usual too!), and was just all around her good ole' self.
I was a proud "mommy". hahaha
I also went up there this evening to take Lacey's flymask off and I found the girls standing about 30ft from each other, each doing their own activity (Lacey - scratching her face on a tree, Lady - grazing), and neither mare was too concerned about where the other one was.
I guess maybe now Lacey has realized that Lady appears to be sticking around, no ninja disappearances, so she can relax about letting Lady out of her sight...
Yay for self sufficiency and feeling secure!
ETA- Apparently I was in a smiley-mood while writing this post... oops. haha!
Most blind horses benefit from a buddy. They attach to a certain horse and follow that horse everywhere. The horse will bring her in when there's food, and will take her to water. If the bugs are out, she'll take her to a cool place. (Not on purpose of course).
You can substitute a horse for some other animal, like a goat. You aren't going to be taking a goat out to ride it, so the goat can stay with the horse at all times.
Personally, I'd bring in a few goats and see which one seems to bond with her. The goat can get away from the other horses if need be but will provide a companion for your horse. Honestly, I can't blame her for acting up. It's kind of like stealing a seeing-eye dog from a blind person, when you take her friend away.
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