by Nancy Dyer
I bought Annie as a 2 year old. Excellent bloodlines and conformation. She was my reining horse prospect. In about 2012 I sent her for a year of professional reining training, in which she excelled. She had an excellent attitude--willing, light, gentle, and just loved all humans. Couldn't ask for a better mare. The investment in her financially, seemed it would eventually pay off.
Not long after bringing her back home, I turned her out to pasture with the other horses. When bringing them in, she appeared not to be able to find the gate--she paced the fence line but would not go in, even though the other horses had. I went out and got her, and as I suspected, she didn't appear to be able to see. I immediately had the vet out and he confirmed that she was completely blind in one eye, and 90 percent blind in the other. He tried steroids and antibiotics, checked on her the next few days, and instead of improving, she had lost what remaining vision she had. He consulted with the university--but even if I would have taken her to them, they didn't think there would be anything that could be done.
This is where myself as a breeder had to do the heart vs head--thinking. She was trained for competition, and was my breeding prospect for half arabian reiners. So now, I don't want to breed a blind mare--although the vet said I could. I just didn't want to take those chances. So, while deciding what to do with her, I left her with the herd of horses she had always been with. As the days went on, they became more hostile to her. All, but one other quarter horse mare. So I separated them out, for years this worked out well. As long as the fence was electrified--she didn't test it, and her buddy was her seeing eyes so she didn't have any accidents. I taught her voice commands to "step up". "stand" "easy" and always kept a hand on her when leading. Eventually--I had to put her buddy mare down due PSSD. Annie was distraught while alone, and stopped eating. I tried other horses with her, one at a time, but none would accept her, she was ran through the fence, always had bites, cuts etc...and was losing weight. Her quality of life sucked, but she was still a good girl with the kids that would visit, was patient and kind with all the interactions with humans, but no one could be with her all the time just so she would eat and not pace in circles. So I had almost came to the conclusion once again I was going to have to put her down. I posted about it on facebook and her trainer who now lived in Utah offered to take her for a special needs kids program, but due to a sudden family emergency, that fell through. So once again-back to the drawing board.
Blind horse sanctuaries that I looked at, just didn't feel right. One was even nearing the point of a hoarding, neglect situation. So back to the euthanasia debate, after all, the mare wasn't happy most of the time. In the midst of this, one evening, I suddenly went blind in my left eye. On the way to the hospital, I had an epiphany. Now, I couldn't put her down. The next day, I told my husband to put the only weanling we had at the time with her, in less than a day she had become the most caring babysitter ever! She was eating, she was playing, her spark for life was back! That was almost 5 years ago, they are the best of friends and take perfect care of each other.They are both great with kids, lovable, kind and patient, and happy 24/7. The lessons a blind horse can teach us about life are valuable, my tune had changed--and I certainly believe they deserve a chance.
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