Published 03-13-2011 7:22 PM | Fernanda Camargo
From Ann Thomas, a member of the Saddle Up Safely Team.
"My elderly gelding had to have his eye surgically removed a few years back due to squamous cell carcinoma. I always let him know if I am coming up on that blind side now so he’s not startled by my touch or the feed dropping into his bucket from that side. I am always very conscious of his handicap. Any horse who has any sort of visual impairment MUST be warned in advance of your approach so it doesn’t take a defensive mode and strike out due to being startled. Sometimes horse owners get far too comfortable with their animals and just assume everything will always be OK. Never take for granted that basic equine flight or fight instinct won’t kick in or they may wind up getting themselves and/or their horse injured."
My own horse is blind on her right eye. The difference is that she was born this way, so this is all she's ever known. But I always call her name and talk to her when I approach her from the right. I never touch her on the right side before she knows I am there and has made eye contact (from the left eye, of course!!) with me as I approach her.
One thing that we need to be cognizant at all times, is that blind horses can't see from that side, and we need to be their eyes to protect them!! For example, be careful to give them ample space to get inside the stall, or pass through a gate. I always keep in mind, as I ride my horse, that she is not seeing on the right side, and always keep a safe distance from the arena railing or another horse or tree limbs when we are trail riding. She can protect herself from anything coming at her from the left, but not from the right. When we are on a tight trail, I always keep a bigger space on her right side, so tree limbs, leaves, or shrubs, don't hurt her face.
A blind horse can still be very useful, we just need to be extra careful with them!!!