There are several myths widespread in the horse community – even among some “old school” equine vets, unfortunately – about blind horses that require separate responses. This section is adapted from a brochure we produced several years ago called Blind Horses: Top 5 Tips and Myths.
1. A blind horse can’t have a good quality of life.
At Rolling Dog Farm, every one of our blind horses has a great quality of life! They enjoy grazing, rolling on the ground, sunning themselves, and grooming each other. We know of a blind horse that competes in dressage, another that teaches children how to ride, and even one that performs on a drill team. Give a blind horse a chance to live, and it will show you just how much it can enjoy life.
2. A blind horse is dangerous.
The truth is that blind horses in general are very cautious and careful in their movements. They know they can’t see, and they don’t want to get hurt. However, a horse that is suddenly going blind may thrash about in a panic … and it might be in pain, too. In this situation the animal should be brought into a corral or stall by itself, immediately seen by a vet, and given time to adjust to blindness. But once adapted to blindness, nearly all horses get along just fine. When a blind horse gets hurt, it’s usually because another animal is bullying it. In fact, our blind horses are no more prone to injury than our sighted horses.
3. A blind horse takes a lot more work to care for than a sighted horse.
Other than providing a safe environment – and many of the things you’d do for a blind horse would benefit a sighted horse – there is really no more work required to care for a blind horse. Feeding, watering, grooming, trimming … horse care is horse care. The only thing you have to do differently for a blind horse is keep it out of a herd and away from horses that will bully it. And there are some advantages to blind horses … they don’t pick gate latches and take off down the road!
4. You can’t put a blind horse on pasture.
Yes, you can. You do need to have safe fencing and inspect your pastures, and you’ll need to make sure there are no other animals present who will bully it. But otherwise there’s no reason your blind horse can’t enjoy being on pasture. You should give it a friend of some sort – an easy-going, gentle pasture buddy – so it isn’t alone.
5. Blind horses aren’t good for anything.
Well, we know of blind horses who do extraordinary things (see response to Myth No. 1). What you can accomplish with a blind horse depends on the animal and how much time and training you invest. But if you just enjoy the company of horses, you’ll enjoy a blind horse. Your blind horse will greet you with a nicker … nuzzle you for affection … and try to steal treats from your pocket. People who have blind horses will tell you there’s something else to appreciate: You’ll develop a relationship with your blind horse that is very special. The two of you will share a deeper level of trust and a more intuitive communication. This unique bond makes having a blind horse a very rewarding experience indeed.