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post #11 of 21 Old 12-12-2014, 02:41 PM
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Thanks Heleen. I think she's pretty cute myself.

Making circles is a common adaptive technique for blind animals. They'll do it to make sure they don't bump into things until they're 100% sure of an area. My guess is that if you put a leather collar and a smallish cowbell on the dam, that would go a long way to helping the foal orient herself in relation to her mom.

If she's broke to lead, you can also walk her around and let her explore fence lines and teach her how to deal with them by gently bumping her nose into the fence and saying, "Fence", over and over. I've done this will all my blind horses and they learn two things from it: 1. how to use their noses to bump and follow a fence line, and 2. they learn that when I say "FENCE" it translates to "Hey, you're about to run into something!". I can confidently turn Rose out in any enclosure, and know that she'll safely "map" an area before she goes running around AND I can shout "FENCE" from anywhere and she'll know that she needs to stop or turn immediately to avoid a collision with an object or another animal. You can also hang wind chimes in corners and near gates (where she can't eat them, of course) so she knows where they are, or install beepers like the kinds stores have (very cheap on Amazon), so that she can hear when she breaks the beam and the beep lets her know she's in the corner.

Desensitizing early, with anything and everything, is also a really good idea. Things will randomly, unexpectedly touch her all the time. Develop cues for anything and everything - be creative and patient. You'll be surprised how many words a horse can learn (recent studies say about 150 distinct words and phrases).
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post #12 of 21 Old 12-12-2014, 03:00 PM
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Some people will likely call me calloused, but that's okay. If I had a foal that was born blind and there wasn't a cure for it....or if the horse wasn't quality enough to justify an expensive cure, I would likely have it humanely euthanized.

Sure, there are some success stories, as seen above, but with what I do, I don't have any use for a blind horse. They wouldn't be able to do the jobs I needed done. I also wouldn't be able to afford to retro-fit my entire property to accommodate a blind horse; nor would I have the money or inclination to spend the next 20-30 years feeding a horse that was good for nothing else. I also don't have the time or inclination to spend training them when they may not ever be a decent saddle horse...certainly not safe for some of the terrain I ride.

My horses are not only my children and my pets, but they are also my livelihood. Around here, a horse has to earn their keep or they don't get kept. The only exceptions are the elderly horses that we've had and used for years. They have earned their place of retirement until the day they die right here.

Keeping/raising/training/owning a blind horse is expensive and takes a lot of time and knowledge. I have the knowledge, but not the money or time. It is one thing to keep and continue lightly using an older horse who has already been broke but is losing their eyesight. They are already familiar with the whole process of being handled and ridden. Training a green horse when they can't see, to me, is just too big of a risk. If they spook or start bucking, they can't see to avoid the fences. They can't see to avoid the holes in the ground, they can't see to avoid vehicles or other people/horses. It would be all too easy for both horse and rider to be seriously hurt or killed, all because the horse couldn't see the danger it was headed for in a moment of fright.
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post #13 of 21 Old 12-13-2014, 08:19 AM
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i have known two foals that were born blind -- totally blind. Both were beautiful and one was trained to ride. She learned voice commands step up and down and it was pretty interesting to watch her.

Her owner, a very good friend of mine decided to breed her to my stallion. She had a blind foal. Only then was it determined that it had to be a genetic defect. Both the mare and the foal were given to CSU (Colorado Sate University Vet School) with the understanding that after they had provided all of the information they could that they would be humanely euthanized. CSU determined it was a genetic mutation and would probably pass on from that generation on. Because the mare had been bred and produced a blind foal, it was determined that it could not be a recessive gene but had to be a mutation. Either way, a horse with a congenital defect this serious should never be bred. They are either going to pass on the defect or pass on the recessive gene.

The second foal I knew that was born blind was also taken to CSU after I told the people about the first foal and her blind baby from several years earlier. Before that, they had thought about keeping her and breeding her. They took her to CSU and it was determined that her condition was very similar to the mare and foal brought to them earlier and had her put down.

I'm afraid I would have to vote for putting her down. I do not see much point in unnecessarily creating and perpetuating heartaches, problems and money pits with no good endings in sight.

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post #14 of 21 Old 12-13-2014, 09:32 AM
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Horses, sighted or blind, have a remarkable ability to map every step they take. One young lady does very well in competitive trail with the most complicated courses. It would be interesting to see how well the horse could do the course a second time with no verbal cues from her.

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post #15 of 21 Old 12-14-2014, 05:19 PM
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I don't have any experience with blind horses, but I find this whole conversation fascinating. I'm thrilled for the horses who had owners patient enough to work with them and give them fulfilled lives. I also get the euthanasia thing. We have to make hard decisions sometimes for the good of the animal and I don't envy anyone that position.
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post #16 of 21 Old 12-25-2014, 07:31 PM
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Bless your heart Avishay.
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post #17 of 21 Old 12-25-2014, 07:38 PM
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The vet should come out and exam the foal (this should happen anyways) see what the cause is what can be done see if it's total or partial blindness etc then take it from there.

I'd make a point to always talking, it will help let her know what's going on. Say hi as you enter the stall, maybe say her name before you touch her, etc. She will get used to it.

Keep a routine. When she's old enough I'd find a VERY quiet horse to buddy her and keep the 3 of them in together then after weaning just the two, or maybe even let her wean naturally and keep the 3 in if you're worried about her getting too upset.

I'd just see what the vet says and then map out a plan. Euthanasia is something to be considered.

Agree a bell on the dam is a good idea.
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post #18 of 21 Old 01-23-2015, 12:50 PM
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There is treatment for a foal born with cataracts!

i have an 8 month old foal that has cataracts in both eyes. She is blind out of one eye. After see my Vet i took her to Miss. State. They check her over. We plan to do surgery next month. They will remove both cataracts and lens. If it goes well, they will also implant donor lens. if they can do the donor lens, i am told that she should have close to normal vision. If they can not put in the donor lens, she will be very far sighted. But will still see, just out of focus. This is a common procedure for them. i have read that if you are going to remove the cataracts it should be done within the first year. After that it gets harder. I would talk to your vet. The cost will vary but i think my horse is worth it. $2500+.
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post #19 of 21 Old 01-24-2015, 07:20 AM
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Cataracts can be worked with as noted. The ones we knew had congenital (and obviously inherited) Retina and Optic Nerve problems. The lens was not clouded. The problem was deep within the eye -- definitely not fixable and totally blind. These horses did not even see light.

OP -- do you know what the diagnosis is on this foal? If it is this insecure and obsessive, it does not sound like it can see anything. Let us know what is going on with this baby.
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post #20 of 21 Old 01-28-2015, 03:25 AM
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As long as the horse has a good mind and a good experienced owner it should be able to do pretty much everything to an extent any other horse can do!
It is very unlikely that what makes this filly blind is fixable in any way, all of the things that effect horses in utero that I know of are incurable but I'm not the expert in all things eye!
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