Monday, October 19, 2009

Our Newest Rescue!

But before we get started, let's begin today's post with a classic joke:

One day a man passed by a farm and saw a beautiful horse. Hoping to buy the animal, he said to the farmer: "I like your horse and I'm in the market for one, so I'll give you $500 for him."

"He doesn't look so good, and he's not for sale," the farmer said.

The man insisted, "I think he looks just fine and I'll up the price to $1,000."

"He doesn't look so good," the farmer said, "but if you want him that much, he's yours."

The next day the man came back raging mad. He went up to the farmer and screamed, "You sold me a blind horse. You cheated me!"

The farmer calmly replied, "I told you he didn't LOOK so good, didn't I?"

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I am pleased to announce our newest addition to our rescue crew. Pictured below is "Pet" and she will be arriving at our farm sometime in the next few weeks. She is not a "rescue" because she was abused or neglected. Her situation is a different type...

To most people, Pet looks like any other horse. She appears healthy, is at a good weight, and has a nice relaxed expression on her face. She looks content with life, as any horse should. She does struggle with one aspect of her life though.

She is blind.

Her disability does not stop her though. She can still be ridden and even shown, just like any other horse. All she requires is a patient human to guide her through the obstacles that may be in her way.

Pet has been owned by the same family for the past seven years. Her current owners are going through a divorce and needed to sell her. Unfortunately, no one has an interest in taking on a blind horse, so they made a difficult decision: have her euthanized.

Pet was scheduled for euthanasia on September 30th. The owners' daughter contacted me two days prior and I agreed to take her in. Her life was spared and she could continue to be a productive member of equine society.

Plans and changes have been made for her at our farm. We have a small paddock with a run-in shed ready for her arrival. She will more than likely be partnered up with Faith or Amy, our 14-year-old Paint mare.

I have never worked with a completely blind horse before, so this will definitely be a learning experience. We anxiously await her arrival and will post more information as we get closer!

If anyone can offer advice on working with a blind horse, (tips on handling, what we can do to help her adjust, etc,) would be greatly appreciated!



  1. Very cool. I'm glad she's happy and able to be a useful horse despite her disability - good for you to see that and take her in. She looks like a serious cutie, too. :-)

    I have no experience with blind horses, but I've heard second hand that it's best not to clip her whiskers - they're not as sensitive as a cat's, but they are still very useful for figuring out where her feed bucket is before she knocks her nose into it. I'm sure her previous owners will know much more about her needs.

  2. I have a paint mare that I raised from a foal and transitioned from fully sighted to fully blind. She is an amazing animal, going through this with her has been humbling. There are lots of hints I can give, would you like to talk by phone? If so, email me your phone # at, I'd be happy to share what I've learned!

  3. I don´t know anything about blind horses. I just want to say that I´ve read your blog for a whiule now, never worked up the courage to write a comment thought, and I love what you´re doing for those horses. It is so cool that you rehabilitated Faith and Linus from horrible conditions, and that now that Linus has found a family you have made space for another girl in need. I feel completely confident that you will do great with Pet.

    Thank you for doing good.

  4. Wow! you are just brave, and I hope you have a lot of luck with her. She is just absolutely beautiful! I do not have experience with blind horses, and I hope DarcC can help guide you through this. Good Luck and I look forward to more updates on PET!

  5. Hi! I have been reading your posts for a long time about Faith and Linus and now your new "addition". While I don't have any experience with blind horses, I want to take this opportunity to thank you and your husband for opening your homes, hearts and wallets to these noble animals. The world is truly a better place because of the dedication of both of you. I hope to one day have opportunity to meet you and thank you personally.

  6. I used to volunteer at a shelter that had several blind horses. One thing we did was pair them up with a sighted horse, put a bell on the halter of their sighted buddy, and put wind chimes on the hayrack/near the water. That was about all they needed, it seemed :)

  7. A friend of mine had a blind horse, and laid a "track" of mulch-like footing a few feet into the paddock from the fence, a bit like the strip around a baseball field before the fence. The mare didn't run around much, so she only needed a little bit of warning, but she could tell where the fence was since the footing changed.

    I've heard of other horses doing fine once they know their area, and the footing can be a pain to maintain, but that might help.

    Also be sure to watch her through barn doors and such! I had a mare who injured her eye and had to wear a fly mask half blinded, and she whacked herself more than once (mostly my fault) trying to follow me through the barn. I had to make sure I walked centered through a door when leading her. Pet sounds like she has a sensible head, so here's to hoping she'll adjust well!

  8. The bell on the buddy's halter works very well. We had a moon-blind appy for a while, and got around very well in her paddock.
    She looks like such a sweetheart.
    When she arrives, start her out in a stall, walk her around it and let her feel where stuff is. Once she's settled and has had a chance to rest from her trip and transition, take her out to her paddock and walk her along the fenceline a couple of times and help her figure out where the food, water, and shelter are- it may help to put hay and water in the run-in if it's big enough so the girls won't fight in it.
    Some people teach their blind horses commands, so if her current owners do something specifically to tell Pet what kind of obstacle is in front of her, make sure you know them and can do them right. It's not fun having a blind horse trip off a step down.

  9. She's beautiful, and best wishing on your new journey!

    Maybe some good info. here.

  10. Kudos to Pet's previous owners!!! They were prepared to make the heartbreaking decision (humanely euthanizing her) if a good home willing to accommodate her was not found. It is the last act of love and kindness in many cases. I am glad she found a good home as I am sure her family of sever years are too! Can't wait to follow her story.

  11. Wow! How kind that you are giving this horse a second chance! and how timely! On another blog I follow they had an artice about the ASPCA awarding the 2009 Henry Bergh Award to

    They have tips and resources...

    Good Luck

  12. Hi, I am in awe of all that you have overcome with your rescues. Well done. I have only owned one horse. I purchased him at age 7 and had to put him down at age 31 when he suffered a dislocated hip. Starting at age 10 he began to lose his sight. At age 12 he was completely blind. About 2 years he had a mare companion that we used as a pasture guide but my friend who owned her decided to get out of horses and didn't even give me right of first refusal. Just after that the property was also sold. That actually was a lucky break as the new place was much closer to home. At first I kept him within the confines of the back yard and let him graze the front yard on a 30 foot ground line. As a younger sighted horse he was pretty flighty he became very deliberate with his blindness. If he stepped on his line he'd carefully back away if he thought he might be tangled he'd stand until I came to straighten him out. When he was on the line I was always nearby but even if I hadn't been I think he still would have been fine. Once he figured out the line of a yard fence I rode him the perimeter of his pasture for a couple weeks. I led him around the property as well. I put a bell in a tree near the creek and another different bell on his run in.
    I rode him regularly into his late 20's and he was trustworthy and a fun ride. The only thing that would spook him at all was the sound of tractor trailers horns and gear changing. If I was actually astride at those times he wound stand as asked but would shiver a bit. Late in life he was my automatic lawnmower and fertilizer:)
    I had a run in in the back yard where I kept him when the weather turned bad (I have a disability that makes a hard mud slog impossible.) Early one morning I heard hard knocking at my back door. I answered to find two things. There had been a huge snow storm during the night. And my horse Red Haze was knocking on the door with his hoof. He looked wonderful and his legs were fine so I grabbed a bucket of water and half a hay bell and let him into the back yard where he settled for the next three weeks.
    I followed his trail back to the pasture fence. Evidently he had paced on the snow and packed it down even pushing it through the fence. Then he walked up his self made ramp and walked directly to my back door. This was about two city blocks and he never made a wrong turn. In fact he walked up six brick steps to get there.
    I'm sorry this was so long but its been awhile since I had a chance to talk about my old boy. My father wanted to shoot him when the blindness became permanent but I proved many times he was safe, at least for me. Most of the comments have said things I concur with. They do like a buddy but only if the the buddy is trustworthy. I tried a pony after the mare was sold and that little witch would lead him to the other side of the creek and then silence the bell by catching it between her jaw and neck. She would sneak away leaving him there to figure it out. The main thing is to build a trust relationship and a fairly regular schedule. Pet sounds like she has had wonderful care, Just look at that beautiful face! You both probably have much to teach each other. Have fun. ==Heyes

  13. My daughter has a blind appy who runs in a 24-acre pasture with a wire fence. He has two "seeing eye" mini donkeys who keep tabs on him. Last week I took a photo of them playing and then racing at top speed around the pasture ... flying like the wind. He listens for the donkey and never gets in trouble. If they get separated, the donkey brays for him to come to meals. The only piece of advice I have to make your new mare's life better is DO NOT MOVE THINGS. Routine and having a fixed place for water, grain and hay are very important.
    Good luck to you and your horse.

  14. you are going to turn her out with Amy? The horse who cornered Faith and kicked the crap out of her? I can't believe you are going to turn a blind horse out with one who has been known to get after another. Not too horse savvy I see.

  15. To Anonymous who posted above...

    Amy is the sweet mare we have had for 10 years. She was the one who used to go out with Faith all of the time.

    The one who kicked Faith was Rosie. You can read about that here:

    Although Rosie certainly didn't make any points with me that day, horses are horses and mares can be grouchy.

    Also, I find it funny that the few rude comments we get on this website are all posted by "anonymous"... :-)

  16. Thanks so much again to Julie for taking her in for us. I am the previous owner's daughter. Pet has been the family's horse, for a long time, but I probably rode her the most. I am going to miss her like crazy because she was the horse that I could just grab a lead rope, put it around her neck, and hop up bareback and ride around...any time...anywhere. She is a great little mare.

    She is not as "blind" as most blind animals are. She doesn't need bells, or footing changes, or anything like that. We've had her in several different pastures over the past 7 years, and have even moved her from one house to another, and taken her to a show, and she played in a little game day too...and nothing bothered her. Once she's walked over an area a few times, she is entirely confident in it.

    If she bumps into something, she doesn't flip out...even if it's electric fence. She just backs away, and keeps going on her path. She is an amazing little mare and I'm sure you will take great care of her.

    Thanks for stepping up and offering to take her. As always, if you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask us!