With old injuries and not so great conformation, I struggled with riding Lacey. It was always a fight, it was uncomfortable for both of us, she just couldn’t relax and work over her back, and we were both frustrated all the time. So, I decided to find a retirement home for her.
I stated, clearly, in the ads that she was unsuitable for anything but light riding. I still got responses asking how much riding she could do, if this was ok or that was ok. I did not feel comfortable giving her to anyone who was only concerned with how much work she could handle.
I found a woman who kept 3 of her own horses at a farm just 15 minutes away. She said she could get me a deal on board and this way, I could still keep Lacey and save money on boarding fees, and she would be close to where I board/ride.
So, after a few hours, she finally gets on the trailer and is off to her new home. All is good, I’m told the next day. Over the next few weeks, she settled in and is already lording over the ponies there.
Then, one day, I get a call saying Lacey needs the vet. “Do I really, really, really need to call?” I asked -“Yea, I’ll send you a photo.” The horses had broken down the fence and Lacey had managed to cut her shoulder WIDE open. The vet came and stitched her up with a surgical drain and left some antibiotic tablets. That was a very expensive vet bill, and the outer stitches holding the skin flap down didn’t even stay in place. -Nothing I can do, move on, it’ll heal anyhow.
Another couple weeks pass and our friend asks if I’ve ever had Lacey’s eyes checked out (Great, ‘what now?’ I thought) “No, never had a reason to. Why?” She tells me that she seems to be going blind; she’s bumping into things, seems lost.
I tell her I am coming to get Lacey that coming weekend. I planned to walk her home, because I didn’t want to fight with her to get her on the trailer. It would take 3 hours. With my friend in tow, we arrived to bring her home. The fat appaloosa I sent off was not the horse I found when I got there. She was skinny and ratty looking. Her eyelids were swollen and she wanted to be left alone. This image wouldn’t really set in until later, though, I just wanted to get her home. (I cried later, several times. I’d never seen her so skinny)
3.5 hours later, we made it home and she was put away in a stall with a pile of hay.
I made an appointment to have the vet out to check her eyes and vision. The visit was short, diagnosis easy. She had cataracts in both eyes and is totally blind. She may have some light/dark vision in the right eye, but the left is useless. The vet had suggested euthanasia, simply due to a liability issue (we were at a lesson and pony club barn- what if she is startled and kicks someone). My friend and some of the lesson girls didn’t like this idea. My stable owner said “let’s giver her until fall to see how she does”
Lacey was in her stall for 10 days fattening up on hay, while her fate was being decided. When we decided to see how she would do over the next month or two, she was put out in the paddock in the middle of barn yard with a half blind pony buddy. Lacey quickly fattened up again (with the help of some rice bran pellets), quickly figured out her field and the location of the water trough.
I had found some videos of another blind appaloosa doing working equitation, and another who competes at the trail challenge in Oregon. I thought, maybe I could ride Lacey too. Our first couple rides were a little scary. Her balance was so off, we almost fell over just going around the corner. That’s when I started all her in-hand work and slowly moved up from there.
Now we have this