Sunday, December 26, 2010

Blind horses

One of the most counter-intuitive phenomena I’ve encountered thus far is the blind horse. You would think that the prey animal psyche would be magnified by blindness. However, again, the superb adaptability of the horse surprises us. My first encounter with a blind horse was Bright Zip, John Lyons’s Appaloosa stallion. Zip was so unperturbed by his blindness that he would run, at liberty, from one end of the arena to the other, jumping obstacles along the way purely from John’s vocal commands. And one of the most touching moments I can recall is John riding Zip down the hill at his wedding. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the crowd.
This week’s TV show also focuses on a blind horse named Blinks and the richness of his relationship with his trainer, Toah Hatch. Keep the tissues handy!


craigeagle23 said...

I have a horse that is blind and when I received the diagnosis, I was devestated. I was thinking in human terms about what he could/could not do. The vet gave me several options for dealing with Captain's blindness, including euthenasia. Happily, I decided to let Captain tell me if he could adapt to his loss of sight.

Captain has adapted amazingly well to not being able to see. He is still in the pasture with 3 other horses and he enjoys a bit of sparing with the other two geldings. I've even seen him engaged in a bit of play...he will lower his head, shake it, squeal, fart, buck, and trot off across the pasture. He knows where any obstacles are and can avoid them, even when trotting around the pasture.

I'm glad I trusted Captain to let me know how he's doing. He's such a sweet horse, one of the sweetest I've ever known, and my world is so much richer having him in it.

Barbara said...

I had a blind mare that I opted to keep with my stallion. He was her seeing eye dog. If she was unsure where she was she would nicker and he would walk over to her. Shewould position her head over his back and he would lead her to where she was comfortable.

Blindhorse said...

Hey there Mr Lamb,
I just saw your episode with Blinks the blind horse. First I'd like to thank you for showing people what blind horses can do. Second I'd like to let you know that ,with work, EVERY blind horse can be a good riding horse. I know this may sound like an outrageous claim, but I do know what I am saying.

See, I run Double G Stable & Farm. Here I specialize in training and re-training blind horses. They are show horses, trail horses, kids horses, pro horses, non-pro horses. The ONLY thing we do not do with our blind horses is jump.

Years ago when I started our rescue, I noticed there were very few places for a blind horse to go. I already had an Appaloosa that went blind, so expanding on that was not a big stretch. All rescues have trouble placing any horse that is unable to ride. Whether it's due to injury, age, or training issues. So I made the decision NOT to let a horses blindness keep them from riding. To date I have yet to run into a blind horse that did not enjoy their job. Or one that allowed their vision issues stop them from working.

While there are horse rescues that give sanctuary to blind horses, we are one of only a handful actually training ours to ride and function like any other horse in the pasture. And yes, they do pasture with sighted horses.

I would hope I am not the only person writing to you to tell you how fantastic blind horses can be. I know there are plenty of people across the county riding and showing their blind horses. The problem we run into is that SO many people do not know it is possible to work with a blind horse. The story you heard about the foal with no eyes being put down is not an unusual one. Most people will put their horse down after they go blind. Most of the time that is purely do to not knowing what to do with the horse.

So, thank you again for spotlighting Blinks. I would also like to ask that you consider doing a follow up story of sorts. This time maybe featuring all the Non -Professionals that ride and train their blind horses. Maybe if more people see blind horses in action with "regular" people, fewer blind horses will be put down JUST because they are blind.

Thank you for your time. Please feel free to check out our horses at

Tamara Gainer

csigirl7 said...

I was wondering about horses that are blind from birth. I have an opportunity to rescue a colt that was born blind. I could not bare to take him if there is no hope of him having a happy life. I have little experience with horses, but we have a few that we have rescued and provide a comfortable home for. Any advice would be appreciated.