Wanted: Advice for Liberty/Natural Horsemanship training with Blind Horse
My horse is completely blind in one eye and has a cataract in the other eye. He still functions on his own without a problem as far as mobility, moving around obstacles, figuring stuff out, etc. With his confident, curious, and fast-pace personality, you'd never know he was blind under saddle or in the aisle. (We do eventing.... so clearly we're up for a challenge :P)
He follows me around perfectly, like a puppy, with or without a halter/bridle. He knows to backup when I face him and walk at him "strongly" and say BACK. He knows to swing his haunches over when I step at his barrel quickly and say "OVER." He walk/trot/canters beautifully off voice commands on the lunge line. Free lunging, however, is a hilariously different story. He's great until we get to canter...... but then he remembers that canter is his favorite gait, and we suddenly forget what the downward cues mean. :P
So yeah. For all you natural horsemanship people out there, what else is there to teach a horse that works off voice commands? Obviously I can't work with body language since he can't see my body 75% of the time, so what kind of different verbal tricks can I work on to keep my horse interested? He LOVES having a job and learns REALLY quickly, so I like to keep teaching him stuff to keep him thinking. :)
Your post reminded me of a movie I haven't seen in ages. It was called "Pride Of The Blue Grass". It's the story of a race horse that loses its sight from a blow to the head, the owner refuses to give up on the horse and retrains it to be a steeple chaser using voice cues to tell the horse when to jump and how high. I just looked it up hoping to find a copy, so I can see it again. A cool fact is that the horse played himself, a real blind thoroughbred named Gantry. It was on of my favorite movies when I was a kid, I loved the scenes where they are figuring out how to teach the horse when to jump.
Back to your question, I think you are only limited by your imagination! My only suggestion: if you can yield forequarters and hindquarters equally well, then sidepassing should be fairly simple to ask for, then add a specific voice command for sideways.
Just found this link, you might find interesting, it's the true story behind Gantry the Great, and how he was trained for the movie.
Blind Horse Stars in Film – Pride of the Blue Grass, 1939 « Do What's Right, Not What's Easy
We have a blind mini at our rescue learnjng unmounted agility off verbal cues. 'step up' and 'jump' are our current two hieghts that she knows, for poles or raised poles. She knows w/t/c in hand but same as yours gets carried away at the canter. Using physical cues is the only way to communicate when verbal isn't with blind horses. So we do need a lead on her when working at a canter. Until his verbal cue is strongly backed up with a physical cue i wouldn't try it at liberty.
If your mounted stop the same as you would any horse, unmounted stay clipped on until he has a stronger response.
Sorry double post
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