One Eye Blind
My aunt and uncle who breed apps and TBs have a yearling TB filly that is blind in one eye (I do not know the extent of the blindness). I believe she is halter broke, and has been tied in the barn, but beyond that I believe she has been outside in pasture all spring/summer/fall.
I want to do groundwork with her, maybe get her ready for being backed.
Is there anything you need to do differently when working with a horse blind in one eye? Is it much more difficult? I did all the work with Walter, granted he is a sweetheart, but I would like another challenge while Walter is away at training, and so I can work with a horse when I'm at the farm on weekends.
Your knowledge in this is much appreciated,
We had a mare that had only 1 eye... the only advise that i have is try to always do any tacking .... catching from that side with the good eye. Now my Kaite was used to not having her eye from the time she was very young (we got her when she was in her 20's) so she would let you come at her anyway you wanted as long as you where talking to her if you where on her blind side. As for riding i cant give any advise as our Kaite was a rescue and we never got to ride her before she passed away.
Number one rule, imo, don't lead the horse on their blind side. If the horse were to spook away from something on their seeing side, you would be right in the "danger zone" since you're technically invisible to the horse.
It's important to get the horse used to be led/worked with on both sides but I would keep leading on the blind side to when the horse is unlikely to spook (or hold the halter under the chin/be lightly touching the horse at all times, so she knows where you are).
It's the same with lunging/roundpenning, on the blind side, the horse has zero clue where you are so do those things with caution.
Another thing I do with my nearly blind girl (functionally blind in the right eye, very little sight in her left) is I wear my keys on a carabiner attached to a belt loop on my jeans. That way she can always hear me (due to the jingling of the keys) so I don't ever surprise her with my presence and, other bonus of that, it cuts down on how much blabbering I have to do to her since I do use words with her to describe important things and I don't want to make things harder for her that necessary by blabbering along, then suddenly saying an "important" word and expecting her to tune in right at the correct time. With the keys, every word I say has worth and it's therefore easier for her to figure out what's important ie, keys=location of human, words=cues).
Other than that sort of stuff, treat her like a normal horse! Don't chastise her too much for getting into your space on her blind side (cuz, again, she can't see you and doesn't know she's even in your space) and spend a lot of time touching her (at least with my girl, touch is SO important) but treat her normally. Don't baby her because she's "impaired".
I board with a girl who is also on the forum with a one side blind horse. He simply doesn't care if you approach on the good or bad side. She doesn't lunge him because he can't see either her or the round pen and runs her over. I think that's the only problem he has. I always forget he can only see out of the one eye.
Definitely work on desensitizing the horse to the bad side as well as the good side. That way you won't have to worry about someone not familiar walking up on the bad side and the horse getting spooked.
Best to always approach the horse from the side with the good eye. Do lots of desensitizing especially on that blind side. The horse has to learn trust the handler on the side it can't see on. A partially blind horse can still live some what
normally. I used to barrel race on a mare who was blind in her right eye. You just had to give more direction when turned on the blind side. Great horse won several barrel races on her when I was young.
I ride a pony who is blind in one eye as well. When we first got her she kept brushing the arena wall with her side on the blind side, I guess because she couldnt tell how close she was to it. I just focused on guiding her with my reins on both sides so she didn't do it and she seems to be used to it now. Also, this may just be the case for my pony because she went blind as an "adult" horse, but we dont ride her outside because she gets spooked at noises coming from her blind side that she can't see the source of and she bolts. But since your horse has been blind from a young age she may be better at handling that. Good luck! And I would love to hear updates!!!
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