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View Full Version : One- Eyed Dressage Horse Suggestions on Training



ridealot
Jan. 27, 2011, 09:03 PM
I have a horse that is currently in training and is 100% blind on his left side. He has been blind since he was 2 and the owner has done a wonderful job at exposing him to everything so that he is not spooky. The horse is now 7. She hacks him out and he is the best boy ever. As far as his dressage training goes he has a solid leg yield, half pass, shoulder in, haunches in /out, rein back and steady trot but there are two problems which I would love some advice on. When going to the right and making a 20 meter circle right after the half way part of the circle he will not continue to turn and drifts horribly like you would expect a green unbalanced horse to do or he halts. It does not matter if I use all my outside leg or even ride the circle with a little shoulder in he still drifts and in some cases will crash into the wall. It is more of a problem at the trot and the canter is also a huge issue.
I know many people would say "lame horse" but he is very talented in all the other areas and has such a great temperment. I was just wondering if anyone had any training ideas to help with this situation, or has had a similar experience. I am just trying to think a little outside the box.

Side note that might help this horse was started off as a western pleasure horse so I think that is where the halting every 2 minutes had come from. I also know that when the horse came to me he would not go forward at all and it appeared had been shut down anytime he would get forward so we have been working on getting that fixed which he now is very forward and in front of my leg and I would say also has gained much more confidence.

Darko
Jan. 27, 2011, 09:10 PM
I started a young horse that was born w/o his left eye, so he didn't know the difference, but was still a bit complicated. On the open halves of circles he would often drift,trying to find the wall. I did alot of counter bending at walk and eventually trot and canter with him, changing bend at different parts of circle. It really helped to get his focus on me and the work. It's a big trust thing with the vision impaired.

MeghanDACVA
Jan. 27, 2011, 09:34 PM
I have a mare that is missing her rt eye; lost it at 3 m of age. She is now 15 yr. She is schooling much of 2nd level and is actually my event horse. Jumps quite well and when she DOES duck and run out she goes to the right most of the time. Go figure.

I don't know how much help I can be though since I don't seem to have the problem you guys do. She actually collapses in on the circle when going right.

I can say that I have treated her as if she had a right eye since the day I got her (6 m). Both on the ground and in the saddle.

My husband had a very nice horse that eventually went totally blind due to anterior uveitis. He competed him, blind, up thru training level dressage. Judges never knew and most thought we were joking when we told them.

Sorry I can be of more help.

Beentheredonethat
Jan. 27, 2011, 09:34 PM
I've had a lot of experience with blind and one eyed horses. Based on what you're saying, I'm guessing he's blind in the left eye? Turning to the right restricts the vision and might be making him dizzy, and thus he's feeling he needs to fall out or stop to regain steadiness again.

Some ideas is to do half circles and straight, so he gets used to going forward to the right, and then feeling comfortable by getting to go straight again. Also, on the circle, counter flex so he's bent left going to the right, and go back and forth between true bend and counterbend to keep him on the circle and also help him regain balance.

How does he react going around corners to the right and left? Is there a difference with him on different terrain? Riding a blind horse is way different than a sighted one. You will feel every bump and unevenness in the arena, where you won't with a sighted horse. They need to learn to be able to sit behind to balance instead of stopping. I suspect the stopping is from when he feels insecure and doesn't know what to do. On trails they have to learn to step a little higher and more carefully all of the time to keep the balance. (Think of yourself walking around your dark house with stuff all over the floor--you're going to go slower and pick up your feet more.) How much do you use verbal signals? That can help a lot. They can learn "up" and "down" and "easy" to know how to deal with terrain, going over things, etc. It's much more pronounced with a fully blind horse.

And be aware that, though he has sight in the other eye, it's almost impossible to tell how much unless you have something really obvious. He may have vision issues there, too. My horse was estimated 80% blind before I even noticed, he compensated so well. (He was my FEI horse.)

ridealot
Jan. 27, 2011, 10:07 PM
I've had a lot of experience with blind and one eyed horses. Based on what you're saying, I'm guessing he's blind in the left eye? Turning to the right restricts the vision and might be making him dizzy, and thus he's feeling he needs to fall out or stop to regain steadiness again.

Some ideas is to do half circles and straight, so he gets used to going forward to the right, and then feeling comfortable by getting to go straight again. Also, on the circle, counter flex so he's bent left going to the right, and go back and forth between true bend and counterbend to keep him on the circle and also help him regain balance.

How does he react going around corners to the right and left? Is there a difference with him on different terrain? Riding a blind horse is way different than a sighted one. You will feel every bump and unevenness in the arena, where you won't with a sighted horse. They need to learn to be able to sit behind to balance instead of stopping. I suspect the stopping is from when he feels insecure and doesn't know what to do. On trails they have to learn to step a little higher and more carefully all of the time to keep the balance. (Think of yourself walking around your dark house with stuff all over the floor--you're going to go slower and pick up your feet more.) How much do you use verbal signals? That can help a lot. They can learn "up" and "down" and "easy" to know how to deal with terrain, going over things, etc. It's much more pronounced with a fully blind horse.

And be aware that, though he has sight in the other eye, it's almost impossible to tell how much unless you have something really obvious. He may have vision issues there, too. My horse was estimated 80% blind before I even noticed, he compensated so well. (He was my FEI horse.)

I am glad to hear the suggestions as that is what I have been doing. A great deal of counter bending and also demi volts. He is wonderful through the corners in both directions that does not seem as this point to be an issue. He was ultrasounded and they checked the pressure in his eyes and he has 100% of his sight on the right but none on the left. I agree that he needs to be more balanced and sit more on his hind end which I think will give him more confidence in the turn.
I do not feel every bump on him I would say that he is comfortable but I think with a lack of balance and his past history of not being ridden forward he goes from one extreme to the next. As his evasion he will rush or do the stop when not asked. I hope with more confidence he builds it will get better.
At this point I have worked on the walk and trot and have left the canter until he is a little more balanced. I go from the approach if it is not at the slower gaits it will simply fall apart at the canter.

enjoytheride
Jan. 27, 2011, 10:13 PM
I disagree with lots of what is said above, being the owner of two one eyed horses! The info is probably good for a horse with limited sight in both eyes though.

Yes it is true that the blind side is the more difficult side, most one eyed horses compensate by avoiding the other side or twisting their head.

Don't think of him as disabled, ignore the eye problem. Treat him as a normal horse who has a weak side and a strong side.

My current one eyed horse is an eventer and is incredibly brave, bold, and forward over all sorts of fences and different footing. Her bad side is toward her blind side in dressage, and she was spookier on that side, but now that she trusts me it is just her stiff side. I can send you videos of her doing dressage and jumping and you can't tell that she only has sight in one eye.

Beentheredonethat
Jan. 27, 2011, 10:48 PM
I am glad to hear the suggestions as that is what I have been doing. A great deal of counter bending and also demi volts. He is wonderful through the corners in both directions that does not seem as this point to be an issue. He was ultrasounded and they checked the pressure in his eyes and he has 100% of his sight on the right but none on the left. I agree that he needs to be more balanced and sit more on his hind end which I think will give him more confidence in the turn.
I do not feel every bump on him I would say that he is comfortable but I think with a lack of balance and his past history of not being ridden forward he goes from one extreme to the next. As his evasion he will rush or do the stop when not asked. I hope with more confidence he builds it will get better.
At this point I have worked on the walk and trot and have left the canter until he is a little more balanced. I go from the approach if it is not at the slower gaits it will simply fall apart at the canter.

It sounds like you're on the right track. He was taught to run and stop, so that's where he's going to. If you teach him to collect instead of stopping, than he can feel in control and get that balance instead of having to stop all of the time. Half halts and forward again might help him understand that as well as teach him to sit instead of stopping completely. You might also want to add in short periods of canter--instead of trying a full or even half circle, trot a 1/4, canter a 1/4, trot, which will help him get comfortable in the canter and work on that collection.

He has the right attitude. He's just going to have to learn a new way to adjust. Once they do, horses with sight issues are amazingly resilient. How quickly they lose it and how much all makes a difference. One of my horses suddenly lost her right eye (literally) and it didn't make much if a difference at all. And as others have pointed out, it doesn't seem to bother them much jumping, either! (When I did find out later that my boy was blind in one eye, it did explain why he hit jumps when coming at it from the blind side, though!) For a major "disability," blindness is about the best you can have with horses, I think.

goeslikestink
Jan. 28, 2011, 03:43 AM
I have a horse that is currently in training and is 100% blind on his left side. He has been blind since he was 2 and the owner has done a wonderful job at exposing him to everything so that he is not spooky. The horse is now 7. She hacks him out and he is the best boy ever. As far as his dressage training goes he has a solid leg yield, half pass, shoulder in, haunches in /out, rein back and steady trot but there are two problems which I would love some advice on. When going to the right and making a 20 meter circle right after the half way part of the circle he will not continue to turn and drifts horribly like you would expect a green unbalanced horse to do or he halts. It does not matter if I use all my outside leg or even ride the circle with a little shoulder in he still drifts and in some cases will crash into the wall. It is more of a problem at the trot and the canter is also a huge issue.
I know many people would say "lame horse" but he is very talented in all the other areas and has such a great temperment. I was just wondering if anyone had any training ideas to help with this situation, or has had a similar experience. I am just trying to think a little outside the box.

Side note that might help this horse was started off as a western pleasure horse so I think that is where the halting every 2 minutes had come from. I also know that when the horse came to me he would not go forward at all and it appeared had been shut down anytime he would get forward so we have been working on getting that fixed which he now is very forward and in front of my leg and I would say also has gained much more confidence.

i have a horse thats been blind since the age f 2 in the left eye now 22
what you must do is dont hesitate as in be certian to give a direct signal and ot aconfused one or half hearted one

these types of horses need postitive rising and reinforcement of the biggest assset and aid you have thats your voice speak clearly giving the horse more encouragement of WALK ON TROT ON ETC at the same time your giving a direct signal
dont be wassie and talk namby pamby to him, as a horses dont understand that and b- its not a direct signal of command talk as you would another human and use your tones of voice

also make sure your not riding one sided as in with any horse if you write with the right hand most people dont realise they are stronger on that side as to the opposite side so tend to have a horse more advadsive on the left hand side so one has to give on the right as in you give on your strongest side to even the horse up - as its the right hand side in this case it might be your left handed
so give on the left and
treat the hrose aas with any other horse - ride evenly and the horse will be just becuase hes blind you dont have to compensate for that or think on hes blind on that side so he cant do it

yes he can and its up to you as arider to give him the confindence to on that side hes has lack of sight on so you need to encourage him and treat him eaxtly as you would any other horse but back it up with your voice and a tad stronger signal via the normal aids of leg and seat and push him from behind to forwardness

Petstorejunkie
Jan. 28, 2011, 12:39 PM
Don't think of him as disabled, ignore the eye problem. Treat him as a normal horse who has a weak side and a strong side.

:yes::yes: the horse on my website is my blind in left eye guy.

The key is get them listening and reactive instantly to your command. Lots of moving off your leg, and TONS of transitions so that 20 minutes into your ride everything is met with "yes ma'am" and executed.
Believe me, while my horse was adjusting, he'd ignore my outside leg that was saying "there's a wall there" and I have 2 pairs of breeches with holes on the left side, and a nice scrape on my left boot from him ignoring it.
you may find that your outside leg signal needs to get louder half way through your circle. I also have an emergency sound for "wake the eff up and pay attention" just in case he spaces out at a crucial moment.

baylady7
Jan. 28, 2011, 12:45 PM
remember that many western folks teach a "spu stop" where the horse stops when leg is applied, so your horse may be confused by leg.

ridealot
Jan. 28, 2011, 01:18 PM
Thank you for the suggestions. I have not changed my way of riding him and do not think of him as disabled. I have ridden fully trained one eyed horses in the past I just think I need to think a little outside the box for him. I wanted a few suggestions. I would agree that transitions are a place that could be improved and I am hoping with more confidence he will be more comfortable with the process. The good news is that he does not have a "spur stop" that is one of the first things I checked when I got on him....... That can be an interesting feature when you want to teach them dressage instead of forward your going over their head :)
I do think I am going to need to have a more "wake up leg" on the outside.

TheHorseProblem
Jan. 28, 2011, 05:52 PM
remember that many western folks teach a "spu stop" where the horse stops when leg is applied, so your horse may be confused by leg.

I trust that the r is there on "spur stop" even though we can't see it.:)

retrofit
Jan. 28, 2011, 06:38 PM
You have lots of good advice above. I also have a one-eyed horse who lost her right eye @ 3 months of age, just like another poster said above. She has a tendency to twist at the poll to try to see to her right. She is a very nosey mare and wants to know everything that is going on! And she's a supple little wiggle worm, so straightness is always an issue. (I keep telling her, centerline is NOT an opportunity to practice slalom!) Like any other horse, the better connected she gets, the less of an issue it is. I ride & train her like any other horse. Every so often something will spook her on her blind side but that's life. I hope to show her this year.

ETA - I didn't see it mentioned earlier, make sure you have your outside hip back on the circles & turns to "capture" the outside. The horse may not understand it right away, but that will eventually help his confidence enormously, that you are creating a "wall" for him & not letting him run into things he can't see.