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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec. 12, 2010
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    Kansas
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    Default Half blind horse.

    I have a 6 year old grey ASB gelding. I bought him and then came to realize that he is blind in his left eye. He does not act like it, unless you sneak up to him and poke him on his left side or something silly like that.

    I can long line him and lunge him with no problems. The other day I even lunged him over poles and he didn't even react to it. When I first bought him he was very game and "go forward", but was not stupid. A few weeks ago I got on him and it was like I had a completely different horse. He was very nervous and anxious, barely wanted to flat foot walk, and started spinning in circles. Whenever I took him down the rail he would be fine, and then all of a sudden would veer away from the rail and spin to one side. When I try to stop him, sometimes he will stop and just freeze and stick his nose in the air.

    There are mirrors on one side of the arena, and windows on the other. So I thought maybe it had something to do with that. However, like I said--I can lunge and long line with no concerns at all and I used to be able to ride him without any problems.

    SO I talked to two trainers and had one ride him. One of the trainers believes it has something to do with his eye... like that his body has adjusted and he can now see flashes of light or shadows and it freaks him out. That would make sense to me, except that he only freaks out when I'm riding him. He doesn't spook for light or sounds or shadows or ANYTHING when lunging or long lining.

    My question is--does this behavior sound like something that would happen due to pain? He does have a fairly low back, but I use two riser pads to make him more comfortable. I can't think of anything else, other than it being a reaction to pain. Should I get the vet out and test his vision and also do some tests to see if it is pain? Or does it sound like he is just being a jerk when being ridden?

    I am going to ride him this week with a blinker hood on to see if it has something to do with his vision, so will update after that. But just wanted to get some opinions about this first.
    http://www.youtube.com/user/NBChoice http://nbchoice.blogspot.com/
    The New Banner's Choice- 1994 ASB Mare
    Dennis The Menace Too- 1999 ASB Gelding
    Dreamacres Sublime- 2008 ASB Gelding



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul. 17, 2007
    Location
    Landrum, SC
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    Default

    Did he spook when the trainer rode? If no, is your ability level vastly different? If yes, was the trainer quickly able to re-establish control and go on without further issues?

    Have you changed his turnout/feed/stabling, etc., since you got him? Has something in the environment changed? Have you tried riding him bareback (a great test to see if your saddle is causing problems)?

    IME, horses are never jerks just for the sake of wrecking your day. He's trying to tell you something. It's your job to listen until you figure out what it is.
    Athletic Horses. Educated Riders.
    www.Ride-With-Confidence.com



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun. 30, 2009
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    6,391

    Default

    When I first bought him he was very game and "go forward", but was not stupid. A few weeks ago I got on him and it was like I had a completely different horse. He was very nervous and anxious, barely wanted to flat foot walk, and started spinning in circles. Whenever I took him down the rail he would be fine, and then all of a sudden would veer away from the rail and spin to one side. When I try to stop him, sometimes he will stop and just freeze and stick his nose in the air.
    I used to be able to ride him without any problems.
    I'd have the vet out for a thorough exam.



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan. 26, 2010
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    5,439

    Default

    I would doubt it has something to do with his eyes unless he's losing vision in the other eye. You're sure he's completely blind in the left eye? You can poke a finger at it and he won't blink? If it was vision related, I would guess there's a change in it, like he went from mostly to completely blind in the left eye, or is losing some vision in the right.

    I had a horse that was about 80% blind for years, and then he went through a phase where he lost the rest. He was a great horse, but during this time, he would suddenly stop in a few situations where there was something like a like that came into vision and it was a new thing.

    It sounds like something else, though. If it were vision, he would probably be more secure with you on him. My other guess is smell. Is there some new smell around? Vision challenged horses tend to react strongly to smells. My guy was a rock and would do anything, but would stop dead with his head up on the few occasions we ran into pigs or mules (apparently mules smell funny.) But, that still doesn't make sense he would only do it under saddle.



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec. 12, 2010
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    Kansas
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    Default

    To answer the questions asked:
    Yes, he also did it with the trainer. I thought it might be a respect issue, but he also did it with her. No, she was not able to correct it.
    nothing has been changed since I got him, nor has the environment changed.
    I haven't ridden him bareback, but have thought about doing so. Just need to do some squats first in case he decides to spin and I need to hold on.
    Yes, I can poke a finger at it, wave my hands, etc without him blinking or flinching. There are no new smells. (That I'm aware of of course.)
    http://www.youtube.com/user/NBChoice http://nbchoice.blogspot.com/
    The New Banner's Choice- 1994 ASB Mare
    Dennis The Menace Too- 1999 ASB Gelding
    Dreamacres Sublime- 2008 ASB Gelding



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb. 23, 2009
    Location
    Tennessee
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    1,217

    Default

    Given that it only happens under saddle, I would first think saddle fit/back issues. To answer one of your questions though, yes, if it were my horse I would call the vet and have him checked out, especially both eyes and a lameness exam/check for back soreness (and have a look at saddle fit). And absolutely agree with Melissa- I've met very, very few horses who are jerks for the sake of being jerks; he's probably trying to tell you something, especially since he continues to be good on the lunge and long lines.

    In the meantime if you're looking for some one-eyed inspiration, google Fric Frac Berence and Frankie Thieriot. What a pair!

    ETA: If you're going to use bareback as a gauge of whether or not it's the saddle that's bothering him, give it a few rides, especially if he's not been ridden bareback. Residual soreness from an ill-fitting saddle combined with any tensing he may do as a reaction to the odd new feeling may make it hard to tell (I have one guy who is only coldbacked if I hop on him bareback- he HATES it, has just never gotten used to it). After a vet exam, I'd spend more time looking at the saddle on his back to check for fit or have a saddle fitter out to check it, and remember that more padding doesn't always equal more comfort. Two riser pads can make a horse just as sore as no riser pads, if they don't work with the saddle and your horse's back.
    If it were easy, everybody would do it.

    Equi-Sport Services



  7. #7
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    Dec. 12, 2010
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    Kansas
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    Default

    Let me just say that this horse is the SWEETEST horse I have ever come into contact with. (On the ground, of course.) He will stand with me for hours and just lay his head against my chest and let me scratch him. When I say "being a jerk" under saddle, I just meant that he may not trust me enough under saddle yet, and is therefor questioning me--I didn't mean that he just wants to be a meanie for no reason.

    I do have a different saddle that I can try on him. He hasn't been ridden for about 4 days, I wanted to give him a break from the struggle and frustration... so maybe I can try that this week and see what happens.

    We're calling the vet today to see if he can come out this week and give him a thorough exam all over. Hopefully that will shed some light on his behavior. I really wanted to use this horse in shows, but that dream kind of stopped since the recent attitude change.
    http://www.youtube.com/user/NBChoice http://nbchoice.blogspot.com/
    The New Banner's Choice- 1994 ASB Mare
    Dennis The Menace Too- 1999 ASB Gelding
    Dreamacres Sublime- 2008 ASB Gelding



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun. 7, 2008
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    now in KCMO, and plan to stay there
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    Default

    Let us know what the Vet says. For any advice on vision-impaired horses, get in touch with Christy Parker-Cordell (Pinehaven stable). She has had a lot of experience with them, and am sure she will have some tips for you. I did not realize he has a dippy back, but IMO that could explain some back soreness, because saddles might 'bridge' on him and pinch his withers.
    ETA URL:
    http://www.phstables.com/about_us.html
    Jeanie
    RIP Sasha, best dog ever, pictured shortly before she died, Death either by euthanasia or natural causes is only the end of the animal inhabiting its body; I believe the spirit lives on.



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun. 1, 2002
    Location
    Indiana
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    Default

    I have two horses that are %100 blind in one eye (my dressage trainer was amused).

    Both had a lot of one sided and spooking issues when the blind eye was out under saddle but not on the ground. It is very much a trust and obedience issue under saddle and you will spend more time suppling their blind side especially at the canter. They seem to trust more on the lunge line and free they can turn their heads to see things.

    My mare was much hotter and more reactive in general and would spin to see things on her blind side until she learned to trust me more.

    With good riding it goes away.

    I showed dressage, trail rode, jumped, and evented both horses with no issues. Nobody ever noticed until they got up close.



  10. #10
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    Dec. 12, 2010
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    Kansas
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    Default

    Jeanie, I remember that Christy took in a completely blind Saddlebred last year or something and has done great things with him. I may get into contact with her, I'm friends with her on facebook.

    enjoy-I'm not so sure he is spinning to look at anything in particular. I never see his head really turn away to either side before, during or after spinning. Also, he sometimes spins towards his non-blind side-- it's just a random thing.
    http://www.youtube.com/user/NBChoice http://nbchoice.blogspot.com/
    The New Banner's Choice- 1994 ASB Mare
    Dennis The Menace Too- 1999 ASB Gelding
    Dreamacres Sublime- 2008 ASB Gelding



  11. #11
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    Jun. 12, 2007
    Location
    Westchester County, NY
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    Default

    Besides a thorough vet exam and saddle fit evaluation, I'd start someplace he feels comfortable, i.e. the lounge line.

    Lounge him with his tack on, just like you normally would. Then, put the trainer up on him on the lounge line. Just like a baby- you do the directling and let the rider more or less be a passenger. If he stays happy and content in his safe place on the lounge line despite the rider being up- I'd continue treating him like a baby and essentially re-start him so he trusts you.



  12. #12
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    Dec. 12, 2010
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    Default

    Well the vet came out and did a thorough exam of him. No pain, no lameness, nothing that would indicate there's something bothering him. I switched saddles and am now using one that is flatter and doesn't seem to dig into his shoulders. It's also been staying in place a lot better than my other one.

    He checked out his vision and there is no vision at all in his left eye. So it's not that he's seeing shadows or anything.

    The vet had me ride Fizz and of course Fizz didn't do anything stupid like he usually does. But he couldn't see anything that looked like he was gimpy or in pain. In fact, he said he looks really cute and has a nice way of moving. So we're pretty set on the fact that it's behavioral. For now I'm going to act like he is an un-broke 2 year old and just work my way up so that he gains more confidence/trust in me. If that doesn't work out after a few months we'll send him to a trainer and see what can be accomplished there. Anyway, just wanted to update.
    http://www.youtube.com/user/NBChoice http://nbchoice.blogspot.com/
    The New Banner's Choice- 1994 ASB Mare
    Dennis The Menace Too- 1999 ASB Gelding
    Dreamacres Sublime- 2008 ASB Gelding



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar. 23, 2005
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    the evergreen state!
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    i ride horses for a local rescue- i take them in for a couple of months either to start them, tune them up, or what have you. Basically, it is my job to get them going under saddle so they are adoptable.

    The horse i have in now is blind in her right eye.

    When she first came she was spooky, darn near ran me over on her GOOD side, a couple of times. She was pretty spoiled and has NO manners. I didn't mind that she spooked, but i sure did mind that she was ending up on top of me.

    So I spent a good week or two focusing on very crystal clear ground work that involved a lot of moving her around in hand, and desensitizing her. I had people come in the arena and make noises, or make noises just out of sight - and taught her how to handle it without running someone over.

    I also taught her how to longe, and i think the workouts alone really helped her get comfortable with doing things at different paces, and handling noises and such while out on the circle.

    Honestly, I didn't treat her any differently than i would a normal green, spooky horse. I do notice that when her good eye is on the outside of the circle, she is easily distracted, and only sometimes she wants to turn her head around to see me, though she's much more dependent on feel now. When her good eye is facing me in the center of the circle, she's really good

    She still spooks- but it is much more controlled. She sort of just shivers in place. She's now working under saddle with a decent walk, trot, and canter. She can be fussy, but I just try to apply the same principles i taught her on the ground in the saddle as well.

    Good luck!



  14. #14
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    Jun. 7, 2008
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    Default

    I am glad you found time to give us an update, I was kind of wondering. Did you end up using that Vet I mentioned, or did you find one closer to you? I'll bet Christy will have some good advice for you. Good luck and keep us posted!
    Jeanie
    RIP Sasha, best dog ever, pictured shortly before she died, Death either by euthanasia or natural causes is only the end of the animal inhabiting its body; I believe the spirit lives on.



  15. #15
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    Dec. 12, 2010
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    myhorse--sounds like you're doing a fab job with that mare. I don't really treat this guy any differently either. He doesn't seem to act like his eye bothers him at all, so I don't let it bother me too much either. I just don't sneak up on him on his bad side of course lol.

    Jeanie-I ended up using our local vet. I really respect and trust his opinion, plus he lives right by us so it was easier to just have him come out. I spoke with Christy and she agreed that it was a training issue, not a sight issue.

    It didn't really make sense to me that people were telling me it's his eye when my vet said he's probably been blind since he was a foal since he's adjusted so well to it--but oh well, now I have an expert opinion about what it is and have something to work towards.
    http://www.youtube.com/user/NBChoice http://nbchoice.blogspot.com/
    The New Banner's Choice- 1994 ASB Mare
    Dennis The Menace Too- 1999 ASB Gelding
    Dreamacres Sublime- 2008 ASB Gelding



  16. #16
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    He is very lucky to be in your care! He is a lovely horse, definitely looks like a keeper.
    Jeanie
    Jeanie
    RIP Sasha, best dog ever, pictured shortly before she died, Death either by euthanasia or natural causes is only the end of the animal inhabiting its body; I believe the spirit lives on.



  17. #17
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    Kansas
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    Thanks!!
    http://www.youtube.com/user/NBChoice http://nbchoice.blogspot.com/
    The New Banner's Choice- 1994 ASB Mare
    Dennis The Menace Too- 1999 ASB Gelding
    Dreamacres Sublime- 2008 ASB Gelding



  18. #18
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    Dec. 12, 2010
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    Kansas
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    I know not a lot of people replied to this, but I just thought I would update anyways for those of you that were wondering.

    I rode him tonight and it went great. I got on and immediately started trotting. Didn't waste any time walking because that's usually when he gets worked up and the problems start. He had a lot of energy and wanted to canter, but as long as he was going forward and not sideways or in circles I didn't mind. Had a nice canter on him both ways, really nice trot with light contact and then called it quits. So I'm hoping that working him every day for 5-8 minutes will make him trust me more and I'll be able to end on a good note easier than working him for 20 minutes. Yay I have hope again!
    http://www.youtube.com/user/NBChoice http://nbchoice.blogspot.com/
    The New Banner's Choice- 1994 ASB Mare
    Dennis The Menace Too- 1999 ASB Gelding
    Dreamacres Sublime- 2008 ASB Gelding



  19. #19
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    That is great news! I know what you mean on how important it is to keep the horse from fretting. Many Saddlebreds (and other 'hotter' breeds) are such energizer-bunny type critters that they just want to get moving and can become frustrated if forced to poke along slowly, until they burn off some of that energy.
    Jeanie
    RIP Sasha, best dog ever, pictured shortly before she died, Death either by euthanasia or natural causes is only the end of the animal inhabiting its body; I believe the spirit lives on.



  20. #20
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    Apr. 5, 2003
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    Rode a blind horse for many a year. Trust in you is big. Swore the vet could not be correct on my horse. So a bud and I tacked up and took off my sweatshirt put it over his head so no day light could be seen by him. Hopped up on him and out we went. He never missed a single beat. We just sort of looked at each other about a mile out. Got down took the sweat shirt off of his head and turned to my bud. Ah guess he is blind and it does not matter to him. Rode him another good 15 years. I did pick up many signals for him with my hands and sure did tell him when water was comming up on the trail. We could not do step ups or jumps. That was my fault just could not figure how to tell him how to do it.

    It sure did explain some of those werid spooks when he was younger.



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