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I know horses can function well with one blind eye in normal circumstances as a riding horse, but I am wondering how that would work with a gaming horse. In barrel racing (or any event), if they couldn't see the barrel because their bad eye is on the inside, would they still turn and just require more rider guidance?
 

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I've never met a barrel horse with only one eye, but I knew quite a few team sorting horses and working ranch horses that had one eye. It didn't seem to bother them. I might adjust the pattern so they only make one turn with the eye that is blind.
 

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My favorite old gelding went blind in one eye after a spider bite. Once he adjusted, he was fine. I roped, worked pens at the feedlot, and barrel raced on him and he did fine. He learned to tip his head coming into a barrel or tracking a steer to keep it in his 'good eye' and if allowed to do that, you'd never guess he couldn't see on his left side. Granted, he had already done all these things with full vision, but most horses with one eye adjust and do very well. They tend to do better completely blind on one side than they do with partial vision on one side. My guy was spooky and jumpy for a year as his sight faded. Once blind on that side, he settled down. Since it was his left side and most people handle horses from that side, I always made sure to tell him before I saddled him or put on a blanket, and I'd jiggle the saddle horn before mounting so he knew what was going on.
 

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I am wondering if anyone has ever heard of a barrel or gaming horse blind in one eye? Would that limit their ability to barrel race because they can't see the barrel if they are turning a certain way?

I assume you have heard of Frenchmans Guy? Well guess what -- he has only ONE EYE. He was very successful in the barrel pen himself, before siring more greats.

Here's the magazine article from Western Horseman about that.




I also have a personal friend who is currently seasoning a one eyed mare. She's a little skittish and has her quirks, but she's doing awesome and she is so quick and catty.

Most people that run a barrel horse with only one eye will usually take them to the "blind barrel" first, so that they can have two barrels that they can see. It certainly requires a lot of TRUST from the horse because they are turning blind when you ask them to turn the blind barrel. Your timing better be right!
 

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I've seen several gaming horses that only have one eye. I didn't realize how common it was for a horse to have just one eye until recent years. I think before people just didn't show them or use them once they had issues.

I've followed this horse for a while. He has no eyes...

 
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I agree Frenchmans Guy had only 1 eye and did amazing in and out of the show ring.

I have a mare that is missing her right eye and she learned to tip her nose into the first barrel (the blind barrel) and she does perfectly fine. It does take ALOT of trust and hardwork but it would be worth it. I would add some vocal cues aswell just to let your horse know when to turn...
 

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As long as you practice the pattern often, and make sure you are clear with your cues, I think you should be fine. Most barrel horses memorize the pattern, but if your horse can not see where the barrel is, then it is up to you to guide your horse.
Enjoy!
 
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