At present I’m playing the waiting game. I’ve had surgery on both my eyes, so it’s important to follow the rules. That means, among other things, no horse time for a while. I’m currently in that healing stage where I am feeling better – but not good enough to do too much.
I’m spending time resting, reading and just looking at the garden – as can be seen in the feature photo. I’m admiring the flowers which are coming to life as we move out of winter into spring. The garden is a very healing place!
And while I ponder the garden and my own healing, I’m once again thinking about how I’m feeling now – and applying it to horse training – or rather to help with my understanding of horses.
In this case, I’m thinking eyes. What happens when an eye is injured – or operated on? What must a horse feel like when they have sore eyes – or perhaps only one eye?
I’ve been thinking about how this has affected my whole visual field – and how in particular, when I only had one eye repaired. When I walked on uneven ground, I felt nervous – my body tensed up and I was extremely careful of each footstep. My brain was working hard to compensate – so I became exhausted quickly. I was happy to get back onto the pavers around the house. At least they were even!
So how does a horse feel? Let’s take a horse who is blind in one eye. What process do they need to go through to adapt to the world? This was brought home to me many years ago – in fact it must be 15 to 20 years ago! I had purchased the new set of DVDs from a well known horse trainer. In one of these DVDs the wife of the trainer takes a horse that belongs to a student – a newly arrived horse who only has one eye – and proceeds to make it stand still in one spot. They explain it is for the horse’s safety and their safety. At that time – long before I discovered positive reinforcement training – the attempts to make it stand still and ‘behave’ broke my heart. I was so sad for that horse.
It was doing all it could to adapt to the new environment with the visual field it had. In that moment I knew exactly what I would have done. Apart from not taking it there in the first place, I would have put it in a yard with perhaps another horse it was comfortable with – and let it adapt to the new surrounds in its own time. That incident on the DVD series led me to move away from that style of training. If that’s what it took – it wasn’t for me.
Of course this incident is on YouTube – and I hope these trainers would now work differently – I don’t really know if anything has changed as I don’t follow their work .
But – back to the present – I have thought about that horse a lot over the past week or two. Now I have been in that situation myself, I’ve realised how it affects balance and how hard the brain has to work to adapt – therefore requiring you to have extra sleep! I’ve experienced aching eye muscles and given myself a headache just in the process of adapting!
I’ve also noticed a sensitivity – not only to light – but to noise! I want to be quiet while I heal.
Is this the case with horses as well? I imagine it’s the same with any animal. For example, the horse that seems to spook for no reason – is it experiencing flashes in the eye? I was a few months ago – no I didn’t spook – but it concerned me! Or is the vision not as sharp as it used to be? Does pressure build up and cause a horse headache??? And I could go on and on!
I hear about regular dental checks, hoof maintenance and body work, but I don’t hear much about regular eye checks. I went on a quick Google search to see what was available. Here is just one article I found: https://thehorse.com/14815/vision-testing-in-horses/ I’m sure there are many more.
If anyone has more information, add it to the comments below.
And now it’s time to rest my eyes from the computer as I learn to adapt!
Until next time!
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