Saturday, August 31, 2013

Trail Ride with a One Eyed Horse

Rocky, not understanding why
we want to take a picture of his missing eye
I had a lovely ride today with a friend whose horse had his eye removed just one month ago.  Rocky, an Appaloosa, has had some eye issues since last October and his human partner has had to treat his eye twice daily.  Its been tough on poor Rocky (and his human).   He had to be stall confined part of the time and just looking at him you could tell he was not comfortable.  Despite the discomfort, he has been a remarkably tolerant of all the medical treatment and has still remained his sensible self.

Last month his eye issues became worse and the decision was made to remove his eye surgically.  Today was the first time I've seen Rocky since his surgery and I have to say he looked magnificent.  You can tell he feels better and it shows in his coat and attitude.  If a horse could smile... he was.

He is still trying to figure out his surroundings and with his other eye most likely not fully functioning, it makes it even more difficult for him.   He is doing great though and shows confidence in his attempts to try.

When we went to load him on the trailer, he tripped on the base of the ramp and fell to his knees, nearly hitting his head on the partition.   He jumped up, ran down the path and stood and waited for his human to retrieve him.   On the second try we picked up his foot and placed it on the ramp and after a few seconds for him to ponder it, he headed up the ramp and calmly entered the trailer stall.  Well done!

Once we reached the park, I parked in the grass where it was slightly downhill with the hopes that the ramp would be less steep.  He came off very well.  I stood on the side and just lightly touched his side so he knew where the edge of the ramp was.    Loading to come home he had the same problem and tripped on his first step on the ramp.  This time, he fell to his knees but with no alarm.  He simply had this look of "oh wow, that is where the ramp is.... " and then calmly walked up the ramp.  I think eventually he will understand his owner's cues that the ramp is there.

I was very impressed with his confidence under saddle.   We started off in the ring and while he side passed a couple of times when he wasn't sure what was on his "bad side", for the most part you couldn't tell he couldn't see well.  When we started our trail ride, he decided to lead and there was almost no sign of his disability.   His only issue was that he tripped going up slight inclines and on tree roots.   

I likened his human's treatment of him to the way you would treat a disabled child... for the most part  you treat them like any other child (or horse in this case!) and where you need to, you make accommodations.  Since today was his first day off the farm since his surgery, we kept the ride to almost all flat ground and limited how much we went in and out of sunlight as it may have been difficult for this remaining eye to adjust the light change.

One thing he is having problems with is moving between small spaces.  Its hard to tell if its he's worried about what he can't see on one side or what might be potentially under his feet but I am sure his human will figure it out.  She has done a great job loving on him and trusting him that he WILL figure this out.  I know the faith she has in him is one reason he has such confidence despite the loss of his eye.

What fun to see a horse happy in his job and enjoying his day! 

Next Sunday I am attending a clinic with Steffen Peters at Hassler Dressage.  I can't wait to share with you what I learn.

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1 comment:

  1. My half-blind horse also needs some extra time going into the dark barn from bright sun...


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