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Retraining a blind horse

Dear Franklin,

I was given the bad news that my TB gelding, who is 11 yrs. old, will go blind. He developed ERU, and his left eye is completely blind. My vet told me yesterday that now is other eye is showing disease, and that it will eventually lead to his complete blindness. Needless to say I am heartbroken. He is an off track TB jumper.

What do I do now? Can I retrain him in some Dressage? I don't want to give up on him, he is still so full of life and young.

Please help.
Thank you. Gina

Hi Gina,

Well, unfortunately riding a blind horse will never completely be a safe option for you or anyone else. I would abandone jumping this horse. Although, if the horse trusts you and you are a very competent rider, you should be able to ride him quite often actually. Riding in familiar areas might be fine as well as some dressage training in an arena which would probably be some of the best you could do with this horse and still enjoy riding him. I had a wonderful mare who went blind and I allowed her to become a brood mare. She threw some fine babies and had a good life. Also a blind horse can do well as a companion horse. The seeing horse wore a small bell and the blind horse knew where the other was all the time be following the sound of the bell. Changing the home location of a blind horse can be a problem and requires a lot of attention to get the blind horse used to the new location and where everything is. If you can keep the gelding where he is and begin some arena dressage riding, I think the two of you should do well and have a long time together.....Thanks for your question.

Sincerely, Franklin

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