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Feeling inadequate...

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  • Feeling inadequate...

    This is more of a vent than anything, hoping that some others might have been in this boat and might understand; my non-horsey friends try, but they don't really get it, if that makes sense.

    On Sunday, my horse had a pasture accident. I didn't see it happen, so I don't really know what happened. It was their first day out after several days in their stalls due to the insane amount of rain we've had. Anyway, his only injury was a big one: he punctured his eye. On what, I still have no idea. I walked the entire fence line Sunday and again today. No exposed nails, no blood on anything. Horses do find ways to get hurt on air, and I realize that.

    He had surgery yesterday to remove the eye and it went well. He's coming home tomorrow. And that's where I feel inadequate.

    I'm so worried about him adjusting. Once I discovered his injury and brought him inside, he did very well in his stall. Didn't want me on his newly blind side, but eventually was ok with me brushing him while we waited for the vet. I gave him some hay; he happily munched it. Was super for the vet (with a little chemical help, of course). He ate well and drank well that night, and I took him to the clinic Monday for his Tuesday surgery. Once he got in the trailer (that took an hour), he rode fine, unloaded fine, walked into his stall at the clinic fine. The loading broke my heart; this is a horse that you could throw the rope over his back and say "get in," and in he went. This time, he was really trying, but each time he got partway in and couldn't see, he backed out. Once finally in, much better.

    So part of my worry is loading him to come home. At least we'll be at the vet's, so he can have a little more chemical help. But my real worry is when he's home. Not sure if/how long he'll be on stall rest yet. He hates being stalled, and when he is turned out, he's a wild child at first. I'm super worried about turning him out, though. More like terrified. I have a smallish paddock I can put him in where he's next to his usual herd mate for a bit until he adjusts enough for them to go out together again.

    I'm afraid it will be like when I found him after his injury. He was afraid to even walk toward me out there. Once I put his halter on, he was instantly better and willing to walk with me, but I worry that he won't go to his water bucket etc. out there. I'm worried that he will fret when his herd mate is on the other side of his pasture and try to go through the fence (he's an artist at that when he wants to be. I'm hoping he won't feel THAT brave but I also don't want to amp up the electric fence until he gets used to it on his blind side. I know I can't keep him in the relative bubble wrap of his stall forever...but I'm so afraid of him being out.

    I know in my head this is ridiculous. He can see out of the other eye and I have to let him figure out life and be a horse. If it were any of the other horses at the barn I take care of, I'd be telling their owners exactly that. I have ridden a horse that was blind in one eye--I didn't know that at the time, and she was great. The blindness was actually discovered at the subsequent PPE. I've had a horse lose her vision completely due to uveitis and she did fine, could even be ridden completely blind. I have two friends with horses who have lost an eye and they do fine, one in a herd that he rules. I know all this. And I still can't stop thinking about every little thing that might happen. What if I turn him out and he tries to run like he always has and gets hurt? What if he's afraid to move around at all and doesn't drink enough?

    Like I said, this is really just a vent in hopes that I'm not alone nor completely crazy. I have many years of experience with horses and know perfectly well that my horse is hardly the first to lose an eye. But this one is mine, and he's special and I am a basket case. Wine and chocolate only go so far...

  • #2
    Well I'm just logging in to say how very sorry I am for you and your horse. What a horrible injury to have happen. You sound extremely competent however and I am sure you will find the answers you need with supportive barn mates and your vets guidance. Jingles for a smooth and safe recovery.


    • #3
      It's very hard when you don't know what to expect. All you can do is watch him obsessively and hope that he adapts quickly (which he probably will.)

      I'm sorry this happened to him, poor guy. He's got a lot of "first experiences" ahead of him until he figures it out. Keep us posted as to how he gets on.


      • #4
        Perhaps your vet will have some ideas about how to help him adjust? I understand your stress- I would feel the same way, too.


        • #5
          Several of my horse friends have had horses lose their vision and 2 have had to have enucleation. All the horses have gotten along fine. You'll have to be a little more cautious with him at first but your horse will adjust fine.

          Best wishes for an uneventful recovery


          • #6
            They really do adapt well. Maybe have a chat with the vet about your worries and if they have some suggestions. Is your smaller paddock large enough to accommodate him and his pasture buddy for a couple days until you're comfortable turning them out in a larger field? Handwalking the fenceline and showing him the water may help too. Good luck, an enucleation is tough and scary at first.


            • #7
              My first horse went blind in one eye. He was more concerned about odd noises on his blind side, but was okay when I turned him/let him turn to see. On trails he walked on the side of the trail he could see unless I specifically put him in the middle.

              It's more of an adjustment for you. You just need to reset your awareness of what you do, how you do things on his blind side. You have to be aware of how you move him because he can't see to avoid that thing he'd have stepped over without thinking before he lost the eye. You have to be aware of how you take him through doorways, gates, and yes, load him in the trailer. You have to be aware of being on or approaching his blind side and make sure you make him aware of where you are.

              4-5 years ago my older horse scratched his cornea and it took a while to heal. One of the drugs dialated his pupil so I made a blackout mask for him to keep that eye in the dark. He did really well with it and did all our usual activities easily as the eye healed.

              I think the awareness on your part is the most important. His trust in you to not run him into anything on his blind side is very important. You'll both be fine.


              • #8
                I am so very sorry this happened to your sweet boy.

                A number of years ago my horse was involved in a bad accident and after surgery I was stressing out first about the trailer and getting him home, etc. My father said to me that my horse was a smart boy, that I needed to give him plenty of space and encouragement and just let him figure it out and by golly he did.

                Will be sending you plenty of good thoughts . . .
                \"Tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it.\" Anne of Green Gables


                • #9
                  I'm sorry this happened and I hope he continues to heal well. I think animals adapt easier than people but it will take some time. When I first started feeding at the barn there was an old pony there that had had her removed due to an accident and she did fine. I did have to remember and be more mindful on her blind side when I was around her.

                  Best wishes to your boy and you.


                  • #10
                    I’m so sorry.

                    Wanted to add add that I think he has shown you what can make the process a little easier on him. You write that he was better once you had the halter on when you found him. He was better once he was in the trailer and understood he was safe again.

                    So with regards to turn out I would hand walk around the perimeter in each direction until he feels comfortable. I would bet that will minimize his anxiety and he will be more relaxed when he realizes that he’s safe. A little chemical help to take the edge off will keep him from escalating to panic.

                    I would only turn out with a kind second horse for a bit, or one he already has a long term relationship with.

                    I would also probably make sure to support his gut with something for ulcers during this process as he is going to spend more time alert and watchful until he acclimates.

                    Best is luck!


                    • #11
                      One of mine lost an eye a few years ago. He came home and went straight to an outdoor corral with shelter, not a stall. There were more things to run into in a smaller stall and there was no need for him to be in. The vet specifically said, let him be out and moving and seeing and interacting. Initially on his own he'd swing his head to get some perception of where things were in relation to him. Of course we were more careful with him and ourselves, but he adjusted quickly to every aspect of handling and work. Lunging was weird at first. He would swing his head to see me when the blind eye was to the inside, amazing really how much they actually watch our physical movements to interpret what we want, he was a little lost at first. But he quickly learned to let his ears do the seeing on that side in every situation and his confidence grew quickly with more verbal cues in place of his sight. He took them and ran with it learning everything so quickly from then on. He trusted and listened more than he had before the accident. He did eventually go back out with everyone in the pasture during the day and adapted fine. Those he had to give a wide berth to before, he still did. Those he'd trusted before, nothing changed there either.

                      I'd personally have him live out vs. in. Last thing you or he needs is to have him become a kite with one eye. Mine adapted very well and went directly into more specific training (as was the plan at the time of the injury), as soon as he could go back into full work, and is now a multi-discipline family horse - jumping with one, competitive roping and ranch use with another in some very rough country where sight and self-preservation matter. Our vet did have him on Omeprazole to start with but due to meds and help with any risk of ulcers due to pain too.

                      Good luck!
                      Last edited by ici et là; Jan. 10, 2019, 12:05 PM.


                      • #12
                        So sorry this happened but your horse will adapt quickly and well...follow his lead and stay calm.


                        • #13
                          My usually good loader also hesitated loading when he had the accident that ultimately led to him losing his eye. What we found coming home from the vet hospital was that when I relaxed about getting him loaded (having stood there in front of the vet tech muttering under my breath "I love my horse, I love my horse I love my horse - you ass" as he was being an ass about loading) and instead took the attitude that he could take as long as he wanted to get on the trailer, he relaxed about it and walked right on the trailer. From then on whenever he had to get on the trailer we just told ourselves to be in zen mode and he would walk right on - if I wasn't - he wouldn't load.

                          When my horse had his eye out he stayed in for a day after he came home from the vet hospital and then we went ahead and turned him out with his usual turnout buddy/best friend in their usual 2 acre paddock. He did fine and when he went to run around and be a bit of a wild child (he had been at the vet hospital with no turnout for several days), his turnout buddy got on the fence side of him and herded him around to where he was safe, and my horse let him, even though my guy usually was the leader of that little herd. So if he is really good friends with his turn-out buddy and his turn-out buddy is pretty mellow, you may want to consider going ahead and putting him out with him so he can settle back into his old routine - it worked for my guy.

                          They adapt much better and quicker to being blind in one eye than we think they will. Happy to chat if you have any questions.


                          • #14
                            Don't worry! He will adapt

                            My old guy lost vision in his left eye around age 10, and kept on eventing til the age of 15 when ringbone stopped that. Had it enucleated around age 17, he passed at 23 from unrelated problems. Lived out on 30 hilly acres for 17 years.

                            The only effect was he'd bump into me a bit when leading - just talk to him and let him rest his muzzle on you if needed. He also got some wounds on his left side from not seeing things and bumping into them, but he HATED stall life so it was live like a pirate in the herd, or nothing. He was a happy horse.


                            • #15
                              I'm currently riding/jumping/showing a horse who lost an eye in a pasture accident about 10 years ago. Honestly you'd never know he's blind in one eye from the way he goes (which is great). I don't know why they can do so well with just one eye, but they do, and I bet your horse will adjust quickly. (BTW, a one-eyed horse was jumping around the FEI course at Tyron last summer! ) Good luck!


                              • #16
                                My friend's Clydesdale recently lost her eye due to a cancerous growth behind it. So far she's adjusted very well and friend is riding and jumping her again. She is currently competing at novice and did the classic novice 3 day at Rebecca last year and has no plans to stop showing. Her mare is a rock star!


                                • #17
                                  Oh, goodness! I'm so sorry this happened! I know I'd be worrying about the same things you're worried about. It'll be OK. Sometimes getting to OK is the tough part, though. Horses strike me as having a funky sense of depth perception. No doubt he'd be having an easier time if he'd lost the vision in the eye gradually. He'll be much happier once the good eye adjusts. From what I've been told by a human that had a similar situation, the remaining eye learns to compensate and take over part of the job of the missing one.


                                  • Original Poster

                                    Thanks, everyone, for the kind words. He is home. He loaded right up this time, with the only hesitation being when another trailer pulled in and the horse called. He stopped to look, then got right in the trailer. Settled back into his stall pretty quickly with a pile of hay. He did stop eating and look whenever he heard a noise, but he didn't seem upset, just trying to figure things out. He loves when you rub around the surgical area, which I like because it gets him used to being touched on that side and me used to approaching it.

                                    The vet wants him on stall rest for at least a week, preferably two, until the stitches come out. After that, she says he's free to be as stupid as he wants with no restrictions. He is generally good in the stall (they were just in for a week with all this awful rain, no issues) but gets ridiculous when turned out for the first day. Hopefully we can do a little better living through chemistry that day...

                                    His buddy is usually very mellow; they do play some, not terribly rough. Mine is generally the rougher of the two, despite being half of the other's sized twice his age. He can be hand walked as much as he wants while he's on rest, so we will do a lot of that. Tomorrow will be a test when the others go out. I will leave somebody quiet in the barn with him, and hopefully that will help.

                                    I really just want to wrap him in bubble wrap forever...


                                    • #19
                                      You will be fine. He needs time to adjust and so do you.

                                      Some people who have blind or partial loss animals are very careful to not make large changes in the environment. People who work with him may forget that he is vision impaired and I would encourage you to be sure the barn staff, farrier vet etc always converse softly with the horse or make adequate noise so that he is never in the position of being "snuck up" on. Many barn workers sing while they work, this is a good thing.

                                      The most remarkable partnership I knew was a woman in our local club that had a blind ( no eyes) trail horse. She would show at our fun shows in the western trail. The communication between the two was awesome and to see the little mare slightly move her foot out to find the start of the bridge , for instance, is the stuff that makes you tear up with joy and admiration
                                      -- * > hoopoe
                                      Procrastinate NOW
                                      Introverted Since 1957


                                      • #20
                                        I've known a few who have gotten along just fine. He sounds like a sweet and sensible soul who will figure this out in time.