Blind quarter horse
Hi guys, I am brand new to this forum and am looking for some help. My husband recently passed and his favorite baby (big baby) is our 13 yr old paint horse who has gone blind. She is maintaining well but she is big and a lot to handle without my husband (who was the horse man). I am looking to find her a loving adoptive home really but it has to be the right one. I am having trouble finding a place for her and am trying to keep her safe in the meantime. She is just on aspirin once a day and seems to be adjusting well but I am afraid I can't handle her on my own. She is not registered but her father was double registered palomino paint. (she got mom's color and dad's height) Might throw interesting color if someone were to breed her...
Anyway, any help you guys can give would be great.
Have you contacted any rescues in your area, or talked to your vet about asking around to see if someone wanted a companion horse?
Why did she go blind? Was it from an accident, or is it congenital/genetic? If it's genetic nobody's going to want to breed to her, especially if she's unregistered.
Asking someone to take on a blind horse is an iffy proposition, I'm afraid. She doesn't really have any worth, and will be even harder to place since she's blind and a grade.
Many horses won't accept a blind companion unless they've known them for a long time. They're likely to pick on and even try to hurt her, because she's seen as a danger to the rest of the herd. A herd is only as strong as its weakest member, and it's instinctive for them to try and run off a blind or crippled animal.
You may not want to hear this, but euthanizing her may be your best option, as well as the kindest thing you can do for HER. It's hard enough on a horse with all its senses to be taken away from familiar surroundings. For a blind animal, it's downright terrifying.
I'm sorry you're in this predicament, and wish you luck in finding the best solution for everyone involved.
I would definately try to go the rescue route if euthanisia is going to be an option.
We have a blind pony who just went into paddock boarding with her TB "brother". They have known eachother for years, but they are also sharing a paddock with a smaller pony (who they just met) and are doing very well.
I agree that there are probably not many people out there who want to buy a blind horse (and I would never sell our pony for that reason, and others), but I am sure you could find her a good home with time; somebody may want a pasture buddy for their horse, etc.
Very sorry to hear about your husband and hope you can find a nice place for your girl.
Is she dangerous to handle? Thats what I'm gathering from your post. If thats so, perhaps even the life of a companion animal will not suit her. Often an animal becomes dangerous when it is afraid, and that fear is almost guarenteed to be stemming from the fact that she has gone blind and thus has been robbed of one of her most important senses. She may never be safe to be around, if she cannot have a special person or horse (best option) to act as her 'guide' and to earn/keep her trust. Otherwise she will just live a terrifying and worthless life of fear and uncertainty.
If she isn't acting dangerous and you are just intimidated by her size/you aren't a horse person (which is quite alright) then there might be the possibility of rehoming her. However, you need to watch her for signs of depression and make sure that you give her to someone that is experienced with blind horses. There are many things that can go wrong with handling them which is dangerous for anyone involved.
I know of a farm that has a large mare that went blind five or six years ago from moon blindness. She is no longer in pain but she's kept in a very small pipe corral, by herself, with little contact- and is NEVER removed from the pen because she goes completely psychotic. Why? Because she's terrified. No one works with her or gives her an outlet, and she lives in constant stress. That is no way to live, and it would have been better for her if they had put her down years ago rather than letting her live like this. Outwardly she is fine. Glossy and healthy looking. Inside though, she's tormented.
Exactly opposite of that though is a friend of mine that has a 18 year old gelding that went blind after an accident. She helped him adapt and bought him a 'nanny mare' that stays with him all of the time and wears a bell so that he can know where she is. He stays in a large, safe paddock and shares a stall with her- and the owner laid down different footing at the fence for him so that he knows when he's about to run into the fence. He's happy, healthy, and in his case, I'm glad she didn't put him down. She even rides him from time to time, and he loves it.
My point is- you need to do what is best for this particular horse. It may be putting her down, it may be finding her a forever home that can care for her but realize that they will probably get nothing in return.
Best wishes to you!
I don't believe she is dangerous, I am a bit intimidated because of her size. Vet isn't sure why she went blind, possibly her former paddock mate who started arguing with her over food and may have kicked her. He doesn't get the impression it is a genetic thing. I realize it would be hard to re-home her and will only do so to someone who is familiar with a blind horse. Her inflamation is under control. She is smart and I am working with her. She has a mini horse and a goat (not intentional) with her now and she seems to like that. We recently had to move her to different pen so she could get in the stall which she does ok in and out during the day but can't seem to get in at night so we started to put her in at night and let her out in the morning. She loves attention and even when she does get confused or upset it very quickly passes. I just want to be comfortable with her and I don't want her to get hurt say when I am at work and she is just with the others.
We are a rescue who took a 36 yo blind appy/pony, genetic blindness. We put her in a stall and never changed a thing. Her water bucket, food bucket, hay nothing changed. If we closed the door to the stall we told her, called her over so she would know the door was closed. Small stuff like that. We walked her the fence line 3 times slowly so she could calculate. Put a trash barrell tied to the outside wall to the left of her stall. When I let her out the 4th time she was able to walk her fence line approached stall very slowly then would find her barrell, touch it, move to the right, walk in. They are incrediably smart. Honey was the first horse I ever in my life owned and when we took her she would push me around, corner me in the stall and knock into me. I called my vet to tell her I couldn't keep her, I was afraid of her. My vet told me not to let her push me around, to calmly stand up to her. We took our time and got to know each other and right up until her 41st birthday when due to weakness she had to be put down we knew we were a team. Time is what she needs. Remember she lost your husband also, she's not sure what to do, you have to tell her, use your heart she will hear you. We also purchased her a companion, bad move, but we just put a coral fence between them and they could socialize but he couldn't get her. Let her grieve its just as important to them as to us. Give her time you may find she will be the best horse you've ever had. Also we talked to her constantly, she needs to hear your voice when you approach or walk away, she needs to know where to walk, move remember she can't see you and your smell carries. I'm hoping you'll give her time you won't be sorry.
Firstly, I totally agree with the previous posters.
I'm just here to add my own story since I also have a blind horse (blind from ERU - so mostly likely not genetic and 100% not caused by injury - the most likely cause in my girl's case is a virus/"worm" she got many many years ago) and I can totally relate with you.
Initially, with my girl I was very worried about working on the ground with her because she doesn't respect your space like a seeing horse would (trained seeing horse, that is). She tries to respect my space but sometimes she really gets close and I would (still do sometimes) get nervous thinking she was going to hurt me on accident.
However, I finally figured out that if I started talking to her the moment I felt nervous (and not wait until she was "too close" like I would with a normal horse - my gut wanted to wait and "correct" the behavior when it happened so I had to reprogram myself to preemptively caution) she'll generally recalculate her path so she avoids me. She may still brush me but once she knows where I am, she makes sure that any sort of touching occurs at a walk and that there's no danger to me.
My girl, at least, once I started helping her succeed, has really developed this side where she's extremely cautious when she knows there are "dangers" about. Sometimes there will be children running around her and, instead of getting nervous like I would expect, she starts really thinking hard before moving at all. I've actually seen her turn around when she's unsure and she will literally take 6 inch steps, just moving hoof widths around until she makes it as far as she wants because she's aware that smaller steps are easier to control than bigger ones.
The other things that I've found really helpful are: having little noises for everything and having my keys on a carabiner clipped to my pants whenever I'm around her so she can hear me without me talking (I'm not a huge talker when I'm alone and I use so many other noises with her that I don't want to decrease the importance of verbal info, yknow?).
As far as the noises go, some people have really elaborate systems with their blind horses. Personally, I don't. Lacey has a natural knack for elaborating on cues so our words use that skill of hers (each word is contextual).
We use "HO!!" for "DANGER, stop NOW and don't move until I say!", "hoooo" for "stop, no danger but stop", "step" for "you need to step over something tall/through something narrow+tall", "careful" for "there are deviations in the ground, place your feet carefully", "eh-eh-eh!" for "it's ok to move but you are very close to an obstacle (human/animal/stationary) so watch yourself", "excuse me!" for "I'm right here and you're in my way, move however you want but move", and finally, her favorite: "OK!" which means "every situational cue previous to this is over". "Ok" means "you're free and clear, no danger" if I've just taken her halter off but while working, "ok" just means that all previous cues are finished.
Then there's the usual "Good girl" and "back up", etc.
I've found that with her, touch is of utmost importance. She is ALWAYS touching me to gain cues about the world, especially hen she's nervous. I've found that when leading her, especially if she's nervous, holding the halter directly under her chin (ie, the way you're "never" supposed to lead a horse :lol:) gives her a bunch more confidence. I could not understand that for quite a while but then I realized that for her, when I'm leading her with my hand down the rope, I really could have disappeared for all she knows. And, it makes perfect sense that when she's confident, who cares if "mom" is right there? But when she's nervous, she wants to get as many cues as possible and when I've been "disappeared", how is she going to get those cues?
And so, while touching a horse that's a it "hyped" seems opposite to a good idea for continuing to live, I've personally found that there's a real calming effect to a CALM touch (if it's a nervous touch, that won't help, obviously! haha)
I was still riding my girl up until she injured herself a few weeks ago (running around too much without seeing the ground! haha) and she did absolutely fine. We trail ride/rode and we would often come across obstacles we would have to cross. She never had any difficulty if I cued hr correctly. Of course, if my timing was off or if I didn't give her enough confidence, then we would have trouble. But we managed. We would often run on the trails too so it's not like we ere just walking along constantly. :)
Confidence with horses in general is a give and take bu especially with blind horses. When you're handling them, they're trusting you 100% to keep them safe, they're basically taking alll the responsibilities of the herd (watching for danger, alerting the herd to danger, guiding the herd somewhere safe, etc) on you. They know they can't protect themselves at all and you therefore ARE the protector/alerter/guider. It's a really intense role but one that's super rewarding.
I found this link to be really helpful when my girl was first diagnosed: Blind Horse Care, Training, and Riding
It has a lot of practical tips that just make life easier. :)
And figure out what works for you two. I've found that the things that work for my girl and me are often things that go exactly against common horsekeeping "say so". However, I personally feel that if you're both staying safe and it works, who cares if it's a bit unconventional? The main thing is that you both are safe and feel safe. Don't be afraid to try stuff to "find out".
Your girl is lucky to have someone that obviously cares so much about her! :)
And I'm so sorry about the loss of your husband. :hug:
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