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  1. #1
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    Default Anyone ever taught a blind rider?

    I know it would take a horse that will go around on its own but waht else would you do for a blind/nearly blind rider.
    “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” Peter Drucker



  2. #2
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    There are many things to consider:

    Does the rider have any previous riding experience? If not I would either start on a lunge or have the rider with a leader and potential sidewalkers depending on his/her balance.

    If they have experience we typically set our ring up with four individuals in the corners who would continue to say "corner" throughout the lesson to orient the rider. Eventually we can remove the "live" corners. The rider can typically figure out how many strides it takes to get down a long side and so forth even on different horses. You definitely need a horse that will be willing to turn on its own while approaching a corner. The horse should also be ok with bumping into things as you can't control everything.

    There are some helpful paralympic videos out there. Typically for a blind rider, they have "living" letters. People stands at each letter and call out the letter repeatedly when the rider approaches to perform a movement there. This is a great approach to use when introducing different movements.



  3. #3
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    Thanks hca. How about other types of riding--western/hus folks? Anything special you could do?

    This is not about a single rider but a group of people who might like to ride a horse.
    “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” Peter Drucker



  4. #4
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    I'm not fully blind- legally blind in my left eye and not great vision in the right.

    For me Balance is a huge issue(like I cant stand without losing my balance) I need something super steady to mount/dismount as I worry If they step away when I lose my balance I will fall.
    A very forgiving smooth horse is always best for balancing. Also ones that dont deviate from the track much or fight you to turn.
    My depth perseption really sucks so its good if the horse knows the arena boundries and is respectful of them(unlike some who will bring you against the wall catching your leg on it)

    That's my 2cents hope it helps
    Beyond the Ring-para dressage, training, coaching
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  5. #5
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    Thats very helpful Teddy. Do you mount from a block or from the ground? Many of the horses I know will go around the tring but they may go a little sudden turn. Is that an issue or is it just like anyone elses horse that spooks/moves?
    “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” Peter Drucker



  6. #6
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    I second the others and super steady mount is crucial, especially in the beginning. Most of my experiences with a rider who is blind have come in the form of hippotherapy which is much different so I don't have as much to offer there.

    IIRC one of the books required for NARHA cert contained a HUGE section on working with riders who are blind and I went WHOA! and postit noted and marked it up like crazy. I will look for it tomorrow. I just can't remember if it was for NARHA or AHA or another journal.
    I Loff My Quarter Horse & I love Fenway Bartholomule cliques

    Just somebody with a positive outlook on life...go ahead...hate me for that.



  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnDeere View Post
    Thats very helpful Teddy. Do you mount from a block or from the ground? Many of the horses I know will go around the tring but they may go a little sudden turn. Is that an issue or is it just like anyone elses horse that spooks/moves?
    I always mount from a block-the higher the block the better(okay well im short so of couse) The sudden turns can be a issue if they are quick and sharp( ones that spook super slow/do slow mo moves aren't bad) The sudden turns would probably throw them off balance, especially if they are beginners- I know it throws me off balance when they do sharp turns(which is why I usually only ride slow reacting types). I don't find spooks throw my balance off much buts thats probably because I dont expect them and end up just going with it.

    It all depoends on the severity of their sudden turns and the rider's initial balance, if the rider is decently balanced then they probably would be okay- I would acess their balance on the ground to give you a idea wether you need a leader for those not so smooth turning horses
    Beyond the Ring-para dressage, training, coaching
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    Proud Team Four Star Minion! Renegade for Life!



  8. #8
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    Getting familiar with your students and their riding also helps a lot in figuring out what to do. I have an eye muscle disorder and my vision tends to fluctuate a bit, so some days are better than others. I'm at the point where my trainer can tell from how I'm riding whether or not a problem I'm having is a vision issue or a normal riding issue and can figure out how to address it from there (for example, me turning 5 feet too early because I totally thought I was going to crash into the arena wall is a different issue from me letting my horse fall inward). When working on patterns/movements, bright cones at the letters really help me find them. And I definitely need a horse who can stand pretty still and close to the mounting block. Between balance and vision issues, I mount slower (and less deftly!) than many people.



  9. #9
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    I worked with blind people a little, and found out that many people aren't totally blind and have partial vision to some degree, such as for large areas of shadow or light. At one TR school I volunteered at, I was surprised how much the blind people actually could navigate in the ring.

    One teen told me she could see a dressage ring fairly well, but didn't like riding in the arena without one, 'everything is just brown'. She said what she wanted, was not callers, but a string of bright blinking lights on the top of the dressage ring fence. Would that work for many partially sighted people? I've never seen anyone try it.



  10. #10
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    In Special Olympics competition blinking lights or small beeps have been used..one rider told me she preferred the lights too.

    Quote Originally Posted by slc2 View Post
    I worked with blind people a little, and found out that many people aren't totally blind and have partial vision to some degree, such as for large areas of shadow or light. At one TR school I volunteered at, I was surprised how much the blind people actually could navigate in the ring.

    One teen told me she could see a dressage ring fairly well, but didn't like riding in the arena without one, 'everything is just brown'. She said what she wanted, was not callers, but a string of bright blinking lights on the top of the dressage ring fence. Would that work for many partially sighted people? I've never seen anyone try it.
    I Loff My Quarter Horse & I love Fenway Bartholomule cliques

    Just somebody with a positive outlook on life...go ahead...hate me for that.



  11. #11
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    I keep trying to post and keep losing it so if you want to PM me maybe that will work better.
    I have a grad degree in working with blind and visually impaired people so I can give some general suggestions if you are interested.
    I am also legally blind without correction so have an idea what riding with a vision loss would be like.

    Carol



  12. #12
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    Depends on the riders experience. I am legally blind even with glasses. I have tried a little of everything. The two most important things I think is a nice quiet horse4 and a trainer with very good at explaining things verbally.Make sure you can describe something more than one way.
    For dressage orange cones are great markers if the rider has some vision. If you are using an indoor and have letters hanging use bright paper to make them. I tend to memorize the movement to the marker instead of the letter.
    For jumping you need a horse that will take a fence no matter how bad of a spot you put it in. Again I can't stress good communication skills enough.
    I have tried western pleasure. However I don't have the attention span for it. Barrels/gymkhana is more of my speed. Agsin bright poles and barrels are good. You can bang on a barrel so the rider can hear where the barrel is. If you have the space try to use a full size barrel pattern. That way the rider will get used to the feel of a pattern and will learn where the barrels are. I haven't tried reining yet. Since it is so close to dressage I guess it can be done.
    As far as flat classes western pleasure classes go they can be a bit nerve wracking. If the class is smal great. However with more horses in the ring and everyone trying to win and not caring about anyone else is not a good experience. I would stick with private lessons or very small groups with a helper with each rider.



  13. #13
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    A friend of mine years ago taught a young blind rider. The rider wore a headset and my friend could talk to her and guide her around the arena. After several months the rider had learned to count strides so usually knew where she was in the arena. She rode the sweetest ASB mare that was total push button. They were allowed to compete in some small shows with the rider wearing the headset. My friend stood in the middle with the judge so he knew she was only giving basic directions, if a horse was in front/behind her, etc. She also taught a lady without arms by using her mouth to hold the reins, again the same ASB mare.



  14. #14
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    I have a bunch of different thoughts for you, since it sounds like your question is more general than specific. As people have said, the right horse makes a huge difference. The other thing that will make a huge difference is the presence/absence of someone who can either walk alongside at first, or ride alongside later. We had a teenager at our program, years ago, who first learned on the longe, then later learned to count strides (not something I'd necessarily do now, but it worked for her then), but was most successful if she could ride beside someone else or in formation - she could guide off the person's voice or the sound of the horse or tack. A jingle bell on the rider's boot (always the same side) helped.

    When I have riders in group classes who are visually impaired, I find one of the hardest things is knowing where everyone else is in the ring - and PREDICTING where other riders will be next is virtually impossible unless everyone stays on the rail, which hardly ever happens. That would make open show classes a real challenge, I would imagine - haven't done it!

    As an instructor, one thing I had to get used to was a blind student's tendency to talk (continuously!) to orient themselves to what was around them. It really helped to have a person alongside to help in "orienteering" so I could give the instruction and not have to get so caught up on navigation. Not sure if you can generalize from that, but it helped that particular individual.



  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnDeere View Post
    I know it would take a horse that will go around on its own but waht else would you do for a blind/nearly blind rider.
    i hardly think that your in a position to teach blind people when you and your trainer have very little knowledge on horses

    as you lack expreince and one would think that one would be putting the blind people in a situation that one couldnt control

    plus you should have some formal qualification and be an accredited coach

    its a novice question as one is a novice and that just spells trouble but i hope you have plenty of public liablity assurance



  16. #16
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    Why are you asking?

    Is this just another of your pontificating hypothetical questions or is it for a specific reason?

    I'm obligated to start the answer by assuming you might actually be thinking of taking someone for a ride and must therefore caution you against even thinking about using the horse you're frustrated with because he's dangerous!

    I must also say that this is one of those things where if you need to ask how it's done, then you shouldn't be doing it.

    But back to answering your specific questions: I do therapeutic riding and carriage driving instruction for people with disability and have taught quite a few who are visually impaired to lesser or greater extent and including totally unsighted. I've currently got 3 regulars. One of whom is totally unsighted and has other disability as well which means she's a wheelchair user and who is doing carriage driving rather than riding.

    I actually thought that some of your presumptions were somewhat patronising.

    You do need to know though that when a person is riding the horse "it doesn't go round on its own". There's nothing about being blind that means you can't give a horse leg, seat, voice, rein aids.

    It's ridden and goes according to the rider's instruction. Though obviously when having early lessons the horse is ordinarily on long reins so under instruction from the trainer whilst the pupil is getting balance and independent seat.

    Likewise there's nothing about having no sight that would prevent a person from mounting from the ground. Though in fact all my pupils ordinarily mount from a block as should be the case at a riding centre. I do obviously teach how to mount from the ground and being unsighted makes no difference.

    Similarly there's nothing about a horse spooking that would necessarily be any different to a blind person. Providing they don't have their balance affected by whatever condition they have that has made them visually impaired.

    Later on though they go independently no different to a sighted rider. The only exception is that they need accompanying good verbal instruction dependent on what they can and can't actually see. I have also used flashing flood lighting ring side and electronic beeps dependent on individual needs.

    You also asked about "a group of people". Well you don't do that. You do private closely supervised instruction. More than one and you'd need a good trainer with each person. Unless of course you're talking about just taking them for a ride rather than teaching them to ride.



  17. #17
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    Does anyone have any hints or tips for executing dressage patterns for someone with vision issues? I'm only doing Intro level, so it's not that complicated--the circles are actually less difficult than figuring out how to make my center lines and diagonal straight when I really can't see where I'm going until it's too late to make corrections. My trainer is using bright orange cones to help orient me when I practice my tests, and really I think just doing the pattern over and over will help me get the muscle memory of how the pattern is ridden, but does anyone have anything else specific they've done that has been helpful?



  18. #18
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    Natalie, the orange cones are a great idea. Depending on were you show you can bring them along and use them. You just need a ground person to place/collect them.Most dressage rings the letters extend above the chain/ring. Easier to see. If it is a normal ring with letter tacked up the cones will come in handy.
    I like to break the long lines into segments. Like coming across MXK diagnal. I focus on getting the correct feel of bend at M Aim for X Than aim for K. Of curse it is easier to get the turn/bend easier after the diagnal. That is were I try to develop my feel for a turn.
    It takes a little time to feel how much bend in the horses body to get the right turn. I learned to ride my 20m circle on feel. It was how I adapted. My one trainer was amazed I didn't have the beginer egg shape circles she usually sees.



  19. #19
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    I operated a NARHA hippotherapy program for about 8 years at my farm. I taught a physically impaired, completely blind rider. Jeal Paul Pare worked with me in the therapy program. We worked with her in long lines, mostly on a PSG horse. In that way, she could WTC, piaffe, half pass, etc.

    This rider and I did a demonstration at Dressage at Devon in around 1996. With that same horse, another rider, who was born without arms (google Donna Rock) also did a demonstration at Devon that same year. Donna is now pretty well-known in dog agility circles. She did and does everything with her feet.

    This is NOT something for beginner, untrained, or un-certified teachers to do, in my opinion. There are serious safety concerns (we did not allow the blind woman to ride without a leader, long lines, or a longe line) and insurance and liability issues.



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