Rolling Dog Ranch - Horses
There are approximately 30 horses at Rolling Dog Ranch. Most of them are blind; a few have other disabilities.
Alayne and Steve have learned so much about blind horses and their care, having started from scratch with Lena, the first official new resident of the ranch. They created a sister web site just for
blind horses - "a guide to loving and caring for blind horses" - a wonderfully complete and thorough resource for anyone dealing with equine eye care issues, or facing the task of raising a sight-impaired or blind horse
Some of the horses at Rolling Dog Ranch still have their eyes, although they may see little or nothing with them; others have had one or both eyes removed to prevent pain or other medical issues.
One of the things learned by observing these horses as they joined the ranch community is that they do best in pairs. With three or more in a corral, they tend to bump into each other, causing problems. In pairs, though, they're hard to distinguish from sighted horses as they move around and near each other, easily finding their feed and water, comforting and entertaining each other. Each member of a pair becomes visibly distressed when separated, even briefly, from the other. It's very touching to observe.
All of the horses are incredibly gentle. A simple introduction of my hand and breath on their noses was sufficient to create trust. I groomed several, and was pleased with how still they would stand as I brushed them and moved around them. They invariable smelled treats in my pocket and would follow me, nudging and pushing with their noses, until I gave them some.
Sometimes I would go out into the pastures with Gloria (in photos below) to lead a couple of horses back in to corrals near the barn. I loved watching them cock their heads, first to one side, then the other, as they listened to us approach and call their names. Very dog-like.
The kneeling foal in the photo is Brynn. She came to the ranch last year at just five days old. She has many health issues. She's blind, has a hole in her heart, only one kidney with urinary problems that cause her to dribble urine, and perhaps most troubling from a practical standpoint - her neck is too short due to malformed vertebrae, making it impossible for her to graze normally.
Leave it to Brynn to figure out how to graze her own special way. She kneels, as she demonstrates in this photo. Or, as Steve refers to it in his blog entry, she does a curtsy. They try to keep her from doing this very often, however, fearing damage to her forelegs over time. Brynn is the perfect illustration that these horses, despite their disabilities, can lead wonderfully full and happy lives if just given the chance.