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bug4952 07-06-2012 07:48 PM

Blind Baby
 
I volunteer at a youth ranch, who takes in abused or differently able'd horses and pairs them with hurting/differently able'd children. One of the horses they recently took in is 7 and blind and only trusts the little boy they got him from, and Bill, who is one of the new owners.

I love this horse, and he's just beautiful! Just to be able to touch him would be a blessing, but because he is blind, i'm afraid i'll frighten him and cause him to hurt himself. How can I convince him i'm not a threat, if he can't see me?

Endiku 07-06-2012 08:04 PM

A soft voice and gentle hand go a long ways. With our half-blind colt who mistrusts people, I find that a constant murmer helps him locate and remember where I am. Often I will sing to him as I brush him or lead him. Try to just be slow and steady with everything you do, always watching his body for uncertainty or fear. Go slowly. Eventually, he will see you, though not through his eyes. He'll see you as the one who would never hurt him or cause him harm. As the protector :)

WSArabians 07-06-2012 08:10 PM

Horses actually remember by scent, not by sight. To horses, we all look the same, but we all smell different. That's how they sense predators in the wild; they don't have to see them, they smell them before.
Once he associates your smell with pleasent things, you'll go a long way.

I'm assuming your rescue knows what they are doing, but blind horses do have to have a very controlled envrioment as they can't see. One of the things I've found best is putting a ring of gravel around any obstacles in the pasture (Ex. if there is a tree, but a ring of gravel (or some other substance but gravel works best) about a foot around, same with the fence line, etc) so that they know when their feet touches that, there is something ahead.
Although he can smell and hear you, I would never walk up behind him and touch him without speaking (you shouldn't do this anyway, but I'm guilty as charged in my own pasture with horses I've known forever - One of these days it's more then possible I could spook one and get a boot for it).
As Endiku said, talking helps him to keep your location and is often very soothing for horses, especially those who can't see.

xxBarry Godden 07-08-2012 11:14 AM

When considering the challenges presented by training a blind horse to ride, I feel that there is no reason why a rider/trainer might not eventually succeed.

A horse 'sees' with the other senses and does not quite rely on sight as we humans. They have a highly developed sense of smell and excellent hearing. They may even have senses which we humans do not. In theory a blind horse can enjoy life.

Initially a handler must read up on and then work on work in hand. Touch, sound, routine, familiarity and communication will be the key tools to success.

With may be years of training and companionship, there should be no reason why a pair of rider and blind horse should not canter down a broad level path along a woodland trail.

The big question is whether the rider/trainer can invoke a level of trust by the horse in its rider. That the horse currently trusts an 'innocent' child comes as no surprise to me.

What a project! Thankfully, there are not that many blind horses to work with.


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