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Euthanizing A Blind Horse
 By Winniefield Park   •   11th Aug 2015   •   2,679 views   •   1 comments
Euthanizing A Blind Horse

Recently I was raked over the coals by some people who disagreed with an article I wrote about beginner riders keeping and riding blind horses. Some were especially put out because I suggested that it would be humane to euthanize some blind horses as their blindness could result in stress and pain. Many of them claimed to have successfully ridden, shown and even jumped their blind horses. Because I truly believe that it is unwise for a beginner to consider owning a blind horse, never mind ride one, I did not change my position. Even though I did not (and will not) change my opinion, I did invite them to submit an article describing their own experiences handling and riding a blind horse, so that I could link it from mine, and provide another view point. No one responded.

Donít get me wrong. I love horses, and if my own horse were to go blind, Iíd probably do everything I could to make sure she was comfortable and stress free for as long as possible. Sadly, depending on what causes a blindness, it might not be long until a sad decision to euthanize would have to be made. In the case of moon blindness or Equine Recurrent Uveitis, a horse can be in pain, first on and off and then more continually until the flare-ups are so frequent treatment isnít really effective any more. I know of horses who have had this and despite heroic efforts on the part of the owner, the end was always the same.

Related: Blind Horse Competes and Wins in Barrel Racing
Related: The Horse Eye and How A Horse Views Our World
Related: One Eyed Bandit - Horse With One Eye

Then there are horses that are born blind. Like humans born sightless, these horses can adapt well if the owner ensures a safe environment and consistent handling. Earlier this summer, I read of a blind horse that was missing after a storm because it got separated from the rest of the herd. Some owners feel secure letting their blind horses out with a herd, but itís wise to remember that while herd members feel safe with their herd, the herd doesnít really look after its individual members. In a panic situation, itís every horse for itself. And this can mean trouble for a sound, sighted horse, and perhaps more so for a blind horse.

Then there is the training and riding of a blind horse. I know of many partially sighted horses that are used for everything from jumping to lessons. The first time I took my husband/then boyfriend riding, it was on a little one eyed Quarter Horse mare. She was a gem and my husband enjoyed all ten miles. The mare was safe and reliable. But would I put a beginner on a totally blind horse? I donít think so. I donít think a beginner is knowledgeable enough to be the eyes for a horse on trail, or even inside the confines of a ring. Beginners are learning so much themselves that they donít know where to put their own feet at first, never mind how to direct the horseís. I think it would be a really bad combination.

Iím sure there is a lesson horse out there that has the exact dimensions of a riding arena mapped out in its head, and is a safe ride for newbie riders. But, I wouldnít want to have to defend myself in court if anything went wrong. So whatís your opinion about blind horses? Do you think theyíre okay for beginners? Or, is riding a blind horse at all foolhardy?
Valkyrie   MOD 
I think it's a case-by-case basis. An older, sane blind horse would make a great, level-headed paddock mate for younger horses. They would probably be pretty happy in a small, smooth paddock with sturdy wooden fencing and no obstacles. I know some people who have a blind broodmare attach cowbells to the foal so the mare knows where it is. And if you were to ride them in dressage or just for lessons they would be perfectly happy in an arena.

But if the horse was nervous, jumpy and freaked out from being blinded suddenly, or even if they just have an anxious disposition then it would be kinder to euthanise them.
  Aug 11, 2015  •  2,704 views
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