Horses are a lot of work, both as partners and as pets. They need to be brushed every day, their tack needs cleaning often and they can’t eat anything but hay or grass–which is expensive! If you’re in the process of choosing between buying your horse from a breeder or going the adoption route, it’s important that you give them an enjoyable life before you take one away.
The “tips for happiness in daily life” is a guide to help horses have a happy life. The tips include topics such as how to be healthy, and what types of food they should eat.
Complete blindness in horses is very uncommon, with fewer than 2% of all horses experiencing total blindness in one or both eyes globally. However, just because it’s uncommon doesn’t mean it’s any less painful for your horse. It may also be a very stressful period for you as a horse owner as you want to provide the finest care possible.
I was in a panic a few years ago when one of my horses (a leopard spotted Appaloosa) began to exhibit indications of blindness, which I knew was a typical condition with Appaloosas, but I didn’t know what to do for the best. Fortunately, I had a friend who previously owned a blind horse and could provide some assistance, but most of it was learned by trial and error. I eventually discovered what worked for my horse, which is why I chose to write this essay in the hopes of assisting other horse owners in similar situations.
What is the best way to care for a blind horse? Blind horses, in general, do not need any more (or less) care than sighted horses, but they must be segregated from the rest of the herd and preferably housed in their own paddock with just one buddy.
What should I do if my horse seems to be getting blind?
Horses may become blind for a variety of causes, but the most prevalent one is Equine Recurrent Uveitis (also known as moon blindness). ERU, or Equine Reproductive Urinary Urinary Urinary Urinary Urinary Urinary Urinary Urinary Urinary Urinary Urinary Urinary Urinary Urinary Urinary Urinary Urinary Urinary Urinary Urinary Urinary Urin They’ll be able to inspect your horse and perhaps aid to alleviate the discomfort and prevent them from losing their sight entirely (less than half the horses suffering from ERU will suffer from total sight loss).
If your horse loses his or her sight, it may be highly stressful and terrifying for them since their whole world has gone black. This may cause horses to panic and act erratically, which is why it’s best to keep them stopped until they’ve adjusted to their lack of vision. This will allow them time to adjust without putting themselves or others in danger.
If you can’t stall your horse, you should separate them from the rest of the herd and confine them to a small, fenced-in area. The area should be small enough that they do not collide with objects and injure themselves.
This will not only give your horse time to acclimate to their new surroundings, but it will also offer them the opportunity to fine-tune their other senses (such as hearing) in a secure environment.
How do horses deal with losing their vision?
Although most horses lose their sight gradually, it may still be scary, puzzling, and distressing for them when their vision initially fades. However, horses are incredibly adaptive and will adjust to the change fast.
Your horse may seem apprehensive and worried at first, and behave accordingly, but this will pass, and as they adjust to their blindness, their natural personality will emerge. My horse returned to normal after acclimating to his blindness, however he was somewhat more cautious than before.
All horses are different, and there is no fixed period for them to adjust to new situations (some may take a few days, while others may take a few weeks), but they generally learn to depend on their other senses rather fast. Hearing and touch become significantly more vital to a horse without the use of their eyes, which is why you should constantly speak to your horse while you’re with them and touch them often so they know where you are and what you’re doing.
How can I care for a horse that is blind?
Horses are prey animals that depend on their eyesight to survive, but happily, domesticated horses don’t have to worry about being eaten, so as long as your horse feels secure (even without his vision), he’ll live a happy life regardless of his blindness. However, your horse will need to learn where certain items, such as his feed and water, as well as the parameter fences, are located, and you may assist him with this.
Because your horse won’t be able to see obstacles, you’ll need to move them out of his way, but you’ll also need to make some additional adjustments to assist your horse grow accustomed with his surroundings. It may seem intimidating at first, but here’s how I made sure my horse’s stall was secure and adequate for him.
Remove any sharp items from the room.
You’ve probably already moved all of the forks, barrows, buckets, and other items that are generally left lying about, but hooks, nails, and even bolts may have slipped your mind. While they are unlikely to pose difficulties for a seeing horse, blind horses rely on their nose to navigate their stall, so anything that sticks out should be removed.
Feeding your horse on the floor also eliminates the need for hooks, reducing the risk of your horse injuring himself on them. As an extra plus, since this is a more natural approach of feeding your horse, it will assist to lessen tension and anxiety.
While this procedure is critical for blind horses, it should be followed by all horses.
Demonstrate to your horse where everything is.
Horses have a fantastic scent and probably don’t need any assistance locating their food, but I discovered that showing my horse where his food was helped him locate it. I accomplished this by removing a tiny quantity of feed from his dish and feeding it straight to him from my hand. I then led him over to the bucket and lowered his head towards it once he’d done. He began eating as soon as he became aware of it, and he now knows precisely where his food is.
Keep everything in one location.
Keeping everything your horse is likely to use in the same area all the time (even when he isn’t using it) will make it easier for him to discover. After teaching my horse where his meal was, I noticed he didn’t drink right away (as he usually does), which concerned me at first until I discovered he didn’t know where his water was. I promptly placed it next to his feed pail, and he now drinks immediately after finishing his meal. I also placed his hay there, since if he can locate one item, he’ll be able to find everything if they’re all in the same spot.
Make your presence known to your horse.
We’re taught from an early age not to sneak up on a horse, but this is especially critical for blind horses. While they may be aware of your existence, they are likely unaware of your particular location or activities, which is why conversing with them is so crucial.
Stabbing your horse in the same way; contact is an important aspect of horse communication, but it doesn’t mean you should reach out and touch a blind horse without first letting them know you’re there. Touching your horse without first informing him might frighten and even scare him, no matter how mild-mannered he is.
I like to touch my horse as I move about his stall so that he knows where I am at all times. Because not all horses like frequent reassurance, do what you think is best for you and your horse.
What steps should I take to make my pasture safe for a blind horse?
Some say that turning a blind horse out is risky since they don’t know whether they’re inside or not, but this is just not true. My horse can tell when he’s inside and when he’s not; he despises being imprisoned up and whines vehemently until I let him out, so you can definitely let a blind horse out. However, you must first ensure that the field is safe, secure, and ‘blind horse friendly.’
Remove any impediments.
Even if you turned your horse out in the same location before he lost his sight, you should remove all things and make sure nothing is left behind. All jumps, barrels, tires, pipes, and even trailers that are regularly parked on the field are included.
Any water troughs or buckets should be placed as close to the fence as possible so that your horse does not trip over them or walk into them. If you are unable to do so, placing anything that produces a light, soothing noise (such as a wind chime) near the trough can alert your horse to its presence, allowing him to avoid it until he desires a drink.
Low-hanging branches should be pruned
This is a long-term project, but spending the time now to stroll around the field (cutting back branches as you go) will make it a lot simpler later. It’s critical to remove any branches that are dangling into the field, but I also prefer to prune back those that are about to do so.
You should also remove any dead branches while you’re doing this; if you don’t, they’ll wind up in the field, so it’s best to do it all at once.
Make that your fence is appropriate.
While your current fence may be enough for the rest of your horses, it may not be adequate for a blind horse. Any form of mesh fence with holes less than 3 inches is the best type of fencing. If your horse does rush into the fence, the mesh will stretch and move with him in a manner that permanent fencing (like post and rail) cannot.
If your pasture is surrounded by electric fence, you should either remove it or turn it off. Horses, contrary to common perception, are unable to detect electric fences and may get distressed if they accidently contact one and receive a jolt (no matter how mild).
Fill up any holes and make sure the ground is level.
Blind horses are more prone to tripping, therefore plugging any gaps will help to avoid this. If there are any lumps or elevated places that aren’t too large, you should try to level them out. I discovered that by lowering the height of some of the bumps, I was able to fill up the holes with adequate dirt!
Take your horse for a walk around the pasture.
It’s time to expose your horse to the pasture after you’ve made it safe and secure, but before you let him go, make sure he’s comfortable with everything.
This was accomplished by walking my horse around the perimeter, tapping the fence as I went, and assisting my horse in learning where the pasture’s border was. I always tapped his water trough and let him drink from it so he was aware of its whereabouts.
You may not believe it, but tapping things as you go helps a lot more than you would think. Horses are excellent at mentally mapping their environment (even if they can’t see it with their eyes) and then utilizing those maps to assist them navigate. They’re so proficient at it that they can even navigate their way home from areas they’ve never been before.
Make sure your horse isn’t alone.
Horses have a strong social hierarchy, but it is continuously tested, with weaker and more vulnerable horses being harassed and driven away from food and water. This is why it’s critical to separate a blind horse from the rest of the herd, even though they still need companionship.
Ideally, a blind horse should be turned out with a friendly, non-aggressive horse that it was familiar with before it became blind, but if this isn’t feasible, you should begin seeking for a new partner as soon as possible. Horses love to be in the company of other horses, but if you can’t locate a suitable horse (or pony) buddy, they may make acceptable substitute friends for a blind horse.
I’m aware that some people keep chickens with their horses, but although they may be wonderful friends, I don’t believe they’re appropriate for blind horses. They can easily slip under their feet and may be extremely quiet one minute and very raucous the next, making them inappropriate for blind horses, at least in my opinion.
Is it possible to ride a blind horse?
There’s no reason why you can’t continue to ride your horse after he’s adjusted to his loss of eyesight, particularly if you have a solid connection with him and he trusts you. That does not mean you can just on your horse and ride as usual; you must exercise caution and take a few safeguards.
- When you bike, have someone with you – you may never need them, but it’s best to be cautious.
- Make sure there aren’t any obstructions in the way of your horse tripping or walking into – Jumps, markings, and mounting blocks should all be removed.
- Wear a riding helmet and body protection – A riding helmet and body protector can assist to limit the severity of any injuries if your horse suddenly spooks and you fall off.
- Keep talking to your horse – This is even more crucial than when you’re on the ground since your horse will look to you for guidance.
There’s no reason why you can’t continue to ride and even jump your horse if you have a strong connection with them and they trust you; after all, look at Endo.
I’m not sure how to identify whether my horse is getting blind.
The majority of horses that lose their vision do so gradually, often without their owners noticing, but there are a few subtle symptoms to watch for if you suspect your horse is becoming blind.
If your horse is stumbling a lot or bumping into objects like doors or fences more than usual, it might be a sign that his vision is failing. If he’s more jumpy than usual, it might be an indication, and you should seek assistance from your veterinarian.
Is it appropriate to euthanize a blind horse?
You may believe it is in your horse’s best interests, but you should never put a horse to sleep just because they have lost their sight unless they have a degenerative medical condition that impacts their quality of life. Horses are incredibly adaptive creatures, and in the great majority of situations, they can adjust to losing their eyesight quite well.
Is it true that certain horses are more prone to blindness than others?
While all horses, regardless of color or breeding, have the same probability of becoming blind, Appaloosas are eight times more prone than any other breed to develop Equine Recurrent Uveitis. As a consequence of ERU, they are also more likely to lose their sight totally. The causes for this are unknown, however the leopard complex gene (which is responsible for their coat pattern) is thought to have a significant impact.
Products that are suggested
I’ve tried hundreds of different horsey goods over the years, from various blankets and halters to various goodies. I’ve liked some and disliked others, but I wanted to share with you my top all-time favorite goods, the ones I never leave the yard without. I’ve given links to the goods that I believe are fantastic (in no particular order).
- Mane and Tail Detangler – Even if you never exhibit your horse, you’ll need to disentangle his tail (and maybe his mane) from time to time, which is always a difficult task! I’ve discovered that running a little detangler through my horse’s tails every few days keeps them from mattifying and makes combing them simple, even when they’re covered in muck. It also works wonderfully on my hair, which I’m not sure whether I should disclose or not.
- TAKEKIT Pro clippers – I’ve tried a number of various clippers over the years, and although some were clearly better than others, these were by far the finest. They’re heavier than many other clippers, which I think is a good thing since it makes them seem more solid and durable. Furthermore, they come in a variety of speeds, making them as effective at trimming your horse’s back as they are his face. I also enjoy that they come with a convenient travel bag, although that isn’t for everyone. The firm that manufactures them is fantastic, and they’re also really helpful, which is a huge plus these days. The only thing I didn’t like about it was that it didn’t come with any oil, but it’s not a big deal since lubricant isn’t hard to get by.
- Shire’s ball feeder — There are a plethora of boredom-busting toys available, but I like to use them on a daily basis, regardless of whether or not my horses are bored. I found that giving my horses with treats (or pieces of fruit) not only encourages them to solve problems, but it also mirrors their natural grazing activity, which helps to keep them relaxed and de-stressed.
- Horse safe mirror – This is an odd one that many people are startled by, but I prefer to have horse safe mirrors in the trailers and quarantine stalls. It helps to alleviate feelings of loneliness by creating the idea that there are other horses around. Horses, like herd animals, may get severely anxious if they think they are alone, but with these stick-on mirrors, they assume at least one other horse is around.
I hope you found this post to be informative. If you do, I’d like it if you could share it with me since it would be quite helpful.
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