Last Updated on March 24, 2022 by Allison Price
It is not difficult to care for a blind horse if you have just discovered it. While there are some precautions that you should take, it is not necessary to provide a loving and safe home for your blind horse.
These are some of the most common questions we receive:
- My horse has gone blind. What should I do?
- Will my blind horse enjoy a good quality life?
- Is my blind horse allowed to stay with the rest?
- Can my blind horse be put out to pasture?
- What type of fencing should I use for my pasture?
- What type of fencing should I use to corral my horses?
- Can I ride my blind horse
My horse has gone blind. What should I do?
Get the best veterinary treatment you can right away. Eye diseases can be very painful and require immediate treatment. Your chances of saving your sight are better if you get medical attention as soon as possible.
The process of losing your sight can be scary for horses, so make sure you have a corral or stall. You can monitor the horse closely and keep it safe from harm. Other animals should be kept away from your pet, except for one friend.
This can be a frightening time for you. Even if your friend is not in pain, it’s possible that they are anxious, confused, or nervous. This will make your friend feel upset and helpless if it isn’t possible to stop the blindness.
Friends and family members may intervene to say that it is not humane to let your friend go. You might also hear the same from your vet. A blind horse is likely to be unhappy and only get hurt.
It’s impossible to believe.
You should not be forced to make a decision about whether or not your blind horse will live. Allow it to adjust to the darkness. Allow your horse to adjust. Your horse will soon adapt to your new disability and you will too. Your blind horse might adapt quicker to its disability than you.
To be clear, your horse may not adapt well to being blind if it was an anxious and flighty type before going blind. It may become more nervous if it loses its vision. However, it is possible to tell how the animal copes with loss of vision.
Talking to a blind horse is key to working with it. It won’t be surprised if you tell it where you are and what your doing. We talk with our blind children all the time. We touch our blind children a lot when we work with them. This is both to reassure them and to let them know we are there.
Your blind horse will be more attuned and attentive to your voice. He will also develop the “blind-horse tilt”, which is a head tilted at an angle with ears forward, eyes focused, and listening intently. With a bit of coaching and practice, your blind horse can still walk on a leash, be handled by a farrier, and even get in and out of a trailer. Lena, our blind horse, will follow voice commands. We’ll call to Lena across the corral from her stall and she will walk towards us.
While it is possible for horses to be anxious during the first period of being blind, they will soon become more cautious and careful. Blind horses are less likely to run and get hurt. They are aware that they cannot see and will act accordingly. Our blind horses were not more likely to be hurt than our sighted horses. Your blind horse will be happy if you create a safe environment for it and prevent other animals from bullying him.
Will my blind horse enjoy a good quality life?
Yes! Every blind horse wants to live a happy life. It is up to us to make this possible. The blind horse will still enjoy a grain scoop, but it will also try to get a treat from you, and then he’ll snicker at the sound your feet make. It will be eager to do all the things a sighted horse would do, except unlatch gates. It will enjoy it as much as you do.
It’s a joy to see two blind mares out in the pasture, after a day of grazing, and then watching them leisurely groom each other in the evening sunlight. They don’t deserve a poor quality of life, and no one can tell them!
Is my blind horse allowed to stay with the rest?
Horses are herd animals that have a social hierarchy and a clearly defined pecking order. The blind horse is usually at the bottom of the pecking list. The other members of the group see the vulnerability of the blind horse and profit from it. Blind horses will be beaten, taken from their food and then run away from the group. It’s not a pleasant way of life. Because of their fight-or flight instincts, blind horses have only one option: to fly. Blind horses can get hurt when they run from bullies in the herd, literally running into trees or fences.
It takes just one blind horse to bully a sighted one in a small, easy-going herd of four or more horses.
It is not necessary to blinden your horse but to provide a companion pasture friend for him. Horses need companionship, and a lonely horse can lead to a miserable life. We kept our blind horses in pairs or with sighted pasture buddies (we call them our “seeing eyes horses”) in separate pastures. Today, Lena has two “retired” dairy goats as her companions.
We have seen that even small groups can cause problems in the pecking order. It all depends on the personalities of the horses as well as the’social chemistry,’ which is how they interact together. It will be easy to determine what works for your blind horse and how it reacts in your particular situation.
There are exceptions to the rule, but generally a herd is not a good place for a blind horse.
Can my blind horse be put out to pasture?
Some people will say no, but our blind horses were able to go out to pasture every year and did fine. This question depends on what kind of pasture you have. Your blind horse will be able to evaluate your pasture and determine how safe it is. These are some ways to make your pasture more secure.
- Barbed wire can be replaced with woven/smooth-wire fencing (see the related question below).
- Take away any fallen trees and debris.
- Fill any holes where a hoof could enter with dirt or gravel. Regular “hole patrols” will be necessary to ensure that no new holes are created. We have badgers and gophers that can cause havoc in pastures.
- Reduce low-hanging tree branches.
- You can signal the presence of telephone poles or trees in your pasture with…
- Place tires around the base to completely surround the tree or pole.
- Spread gravel or rock around the base of poles and trees to make an apron;
- Three corral panels are used to fence off poles and trees. They are placed in a triangle around the poles.
We walk blind horses around the perimeter of a pasture or corral when we first introduce them to it. We tap on the fences to “show” blind horses where water tanks and gates are located. Blind animals can be extremely resourceful. They create a “mental map”, which they then use to navigate around.
What type of fencing should I use for my pasture?
You probably have a lot of barbed wire if your property used to house cattle. Blind horses and barbed wire do not mix. If possible, replace it by horse-safe fencing (woven/mesh/smooth wire or mesh wire) or any other type of fencing, such as jack-leg or split-rail or post-and-pole.
This can vary depending on how large your pastures are and what type of property you have. We spent over $30,000 on fencing after purchasing our 160-acre Montana ranch. It took many years to replace all the old barbed wire. The blind horses were not allowed in those areas. Each year, we started a new pasture and spent as much money as we could on fencing. We used either smooth or woven wire to fence the pastures for blind horses.
People believe that blind horses “sense” electric fences, but we don’t have any proof. We don’t know why losing vision could make it harder to detect the presence of electric fencing. We don’t recommend using it. A blind horse could touch the fence and be shocked. It could panic and whirl around, and possibly go back into the fence. A blind horse should not be scared by an electric fence.
What happens if your fence isn’t up to the task? First, don’t despair. You can transfer your blind horse to another corral until the fence is replaced. You can reduce your chances of your blind horse being hurt by moving him to a corral until you replace the old fence. Blind horses can get injured trying to escape a bully horse or another animal. They are more likely to be safe if left alone with a friend or a neighbor.
Flags and other materials can be tied to the old fence. This will allow your blind horse to hear the fence line when the flags fly in the breeze. This will help the horse to make a “mental map” of fenceline so it doesn’t get stepped on.
What type of fencing should I use to corral my horses?
Although there is no one right answer, here’s our opinion on the best corral fencing for blind horses: light-weight metal corral panels that are attached to T-posts. We use Priefert utility horse panels but any brand of metal corral panel will work.
It’s what we love about it. These panels are light and fastened to T posts so that they bend and bend if a blind horses runs into them. They have no sharp edges and are smooth and rounded. One 1,200-lb blind horse crashed into one of these panels, and was uninjured. While we may need to fix a T-post or replace bent panels, we don’t have the veterinarian to call.
Priefert states that these panels are not for crowding, but they are used for their own purposes. We love using them for corrals because the ability to bend and flex helps blind horses avoid injury.
There are many other options for corrals, including woven wire and solid board fencing, metal pipe fencing as well as split-rail. None of these fences are as flexible or bendable as panels and T-posts.
Can I ride my blind horse
It all depends on you and your horse.
You may be able to continue riding your horse if you have ridden it before it became blind. First, assess your horse’s trust and confidence. Then you can go from there.
Even if your horse was blinded, you might still be able ride it. It all depends on the horse’s personality, confidence, willingness to trust you implicitly and how much time you have available to work with it.