Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Joey's Two Cents

Joey here.

I was beginning to doze the other day as Mom and I stood together absorbing the sun's warm rays, when she began one of her jabbering spells again. (She does this most times, I think, without realizing it: we'll have a long period of thoughtful silence, and then she'll startle me awake with a spell of talking. It makes sleep nearly impossible because she usually starts talking just as I'm beginning to doze off.)
Anyway, this time what she had to say actually interested me. She said that she had been asked by more than a few people to write a blog post on what it's like to own a blind horse. And she was despairing of the fact that to her, interacting with me was pretty much like interacting with any other horse. She said she couldn't think of any differences to set out in a blog entry.
Now, hearing the sometimes frustrated comments that I do from her from time to time, I know that what she says about there being no differences isn't entirely true. Perhaps she was just having one of her super uncreative moments -- I don't know. But I thought that, since I am said blind horse, I would help her out by writing my own bog post. (Technically I'm dictating to Lexi, who is typing it out for me seein' as how I appear to lack fingers. In return, her tribute will be finished and posted in the next entry.)

Being blind isn't nearly the sob-story that some might make it out to be. Sure, it can be frustrating at times, not being able to see where you're going (I'm constantly tripping over roots; Mom says I just need to pick my feet up more. . .but, whatever.) The way I see it, you can't spend your whole life just standing in one place. Despite the darkness, you gotta move on, always reaching forward -- that's how you go places.

Training used to be a problem for Mom and I. It took her a while to understand that she couldn't use the same body language cues like she does with other horses because I just couldn't see them. I could hear her sighs and growls of frustration as I didn't respond the right way when she tugged on a rope -- I tried my best, I really did! Especially when she got it into her head to rely on sounds rather than sight. But, again, she didn't completely understand. She was headed in the right direction with her theories; but there were too many sounds -- the wind whistling in my ears as I cantered around her on the lunge line; the beat of my own hooves as well as her boots stomping, trying to cue me to do something; along with the many clucks, smooches, words, tones, and breathing -- all the sounds seemed to pile on top of each other and they became confusing as well as frightening!
Add to the mixture my analogies of the ground under, behind, and in front of me as well as what I thought was around me, and you've got a potentially stressful training session in sensations alone, at least, for me.

For a slightly accurate example: Has there ever been a time when you were in one room, and somewhere else in the building there was what appeared to be a strange noise. You can't see what made the noise, but in your mind you race through all the possibilities that you know of that would explain it. Well, that's kinda what it's like for me -- only most times there's much more than one sound to analyze, and there's smells and my image-less surroundings as well. A lot of horses my mom tells me about sound like they couldn't even take the guessing game with helpful images to add to the picture. My world sound a lot more frightening and stressful -- and sometimes it can be -- but, for the most part, I enjoy the logic that goes into figuring out the guessing game. And, for some reason, I don't get scared.

The only thing that frustrates me about being blind (besides the tripping over numerous roots in a row) is when my mom likes to play hide and seek with my food. I will hear her in the grain room getting my ration; and then suddenly everything will get really quiet. . .and I don't know where she is with the food. . .
Then I'll hear her rattle the feed on the other side of the pasture, and I'll have to figure out where she is, exactly, and how I can get to her. She laughs and pokes harmless fun at me while she encourages me; she even moves to an easier spot if it proves too difficult. But no matter how many times she says it's good for me, I will always believe it is an unnecessary waste of energy. -_-

Some days the blindness leaves for a little while and I can see some vague shapes and bright colors. Mom never wins hide and seek when she's wearing her bright red rain coat on those days. ^.^
But for the most part, my world is made up of sound, touch, and smell.

That's all the time I have for today; unfortunately the farrier just got here to trim my hooves (and I thought I heard something about worming. . . >_> ). I might do another post some other time. I like this blogging idea. For once people can hear it "straight from the horse's mouth". ;)
If you have any specific questions about blind horses concerning working, training, or just life in general-- or questions about myself-- feel free to ask in a comment below.

Here comes Mom with the rope halter. Gotta go.



  1. I love that you are channeling Joey! I love to hear his "voice"! Puts things in new perspective... even for the reader! Eye opening... some pun intended. :) but really, my internal eyes were.

  2. Hi, i'm a new reader/follower....I read this post and then went to read your tab about Joey. It must have been really tough to have him go blind at such a young age, but I am really impressed with what an open mind you have kept about it. It must have been so difficult to try and completely retrain yourself to work with him at the same time, but clearly you didn't let it go. Impressive!

  3. Hey, Sam! I loved this post from Joey, especially the bit you closed with, about hearing things "straight from the horse's mouth." So clever! Love you, sis, and will hopefully write back to you within the next few days. If I can just remember which book I put your letter in.......... hmm.... :)


Hey! Thanks so much for commenting! Comments to me are like opening presents on Christmas. ^.^ If you ask a question, I will answer you on your own blog; but do not dispair -- if you don't HAVE a blog, I will reply to your comment right here. So be sure to check back if you were looking for an answer. :)