This is our amazing Grace. Since I'd recently posted a blog about Lakota it seemed necessary to write something about Grace. She is now a 21 year old Appaloosa mare that is blind. We adopted her as a companion for our blind wild mustang, Lakota Woman. Gracie has lived with us since May 18, 2007. She was "given up on" by her previous owners and was delivered to a horse sanctuary about fifty miles from where we live. I was told that the previous owners didn't even look back or say good-bye to her. I had been communicating with the nice lady that runs the place. She said that she had been contacted by someone who wanted rid of this blind horse that was stumbling when their kids rode her. They said that she was causing problems around their place because she would get lost from the herd and end up in the woods all tangled up in the briers. The nice lady named Melanie offered us Grace as a companion for Lakota. We accepted and anxiously waited for her to be delivered. When Melanie drove up in the driveway I went out to meet her. She quickly went to the back of the horse trailer to open the door and unloaded Grace. She was a pretty Appaloosa except for her right eye, which was almost non-existent. The eye was shrunken into the eye socket, was badly deteriorated and infected and the eye lashes were curled into what was left of the eyeball. It looked terribly painful. Grace's face told a story of a horse left with a halter on until it wore into her nose. She was sweet natured and very tame.
She and Lakota got along well from the beginning, which was something that we were concerned about. I began to contact veterinarians about what could or should be done for Grace's eye. Within about a month of when she arrived to our place Grace underwent an operation to remove the right eyeball. I had no idea of what we were all in for next. I found out that once the vet removed the eyeball that there was not a way to stop the bleeding. He sewed a gauze bandage to the front of her face to hold pressure and to collect the blood. We were told to keep the bandage clean and dry. That was a tall order. It was summertime when thunderstorms would brew up suddenly and I had to get Grace back to the stall before she got wet. It was hot weather which made it impossible to keep the flies away from Grace. And if anyone knows how to keep a horse from rubbing up against something, please let me know. Other than physically restraining her with a "horsey" straight-jacket, I don't know of a way. The wound oozed blood for almost three weeks. From the date of the surgery to completely healing, it took six weeks and three trips to the vet's office. Throughout it all, Grace was amazingly accepting of whatever we had to do to her. She showed grace and dignity as well as patience.
Grace by nature is a sweetheart. She is calm and cooperative. I believe that if we had an riding arena with good even footing, that Grace would still be ride-able. From the beginning I tried to follow a pattern while dealing with her to make it routine for her to memorize our daily habits. We put the rubber feeder in the exact same position every day so that she can find it easily without bumping into the wall of the stall. We put her halter on only for a few minutes to move her from the stall to the blind horse habitat. We didn't even leave it on for the 30 minute trailer ride to the vet's office. It's been over a year and you can still see where the halter "wore into" her nose from the previous place she lived. We do everything in our power to make her at home and make sure that she is comfortable. She was a quick learner so I taught her two commands: #1 S T E P, to slowly pick her feet up higher than normal, to cross over obstacles and #2 F E E L to put her nose to whatever it is that I'm trying to show her. Unlike Lakota who is "spooky", Grace rarely gets too excited about much other than green grass or a bucket of grain. While Lakota is easily spooked, she is also very cautious. All of Lakota's moves are deliberate and well-planned. Grace on the other hand, throws caution to the wind and seems to injure herself more often. She is like the proverbial "bull in the china cabinet" slamming and banging her way sround. Nothing major, but she does seem to "bust" her head from time to time. This may just be a part of her personality (she may be like me, accident prone) and may have nothing to do with being blind. She has several "old scars" on her forehead under her bangs from before she came to live with us.
As far as "pecking order" goes, over the past 13 months that they have been together, Lakota is higher in rank. Although Grace is the larger of the two, Grace seems content to let Lakota be the boss. And to think that we were concerned that Grace would hurt tiny little Lakota who as it turns out is quite a warrior when it comes to defending territory. When you hear a ruckus out back, it's just Lakota squealing and showing Grace how to get out of the way of her fast-flying hooves.
Update: Grace's good eye (left eye) continues to shrink and deteriorate which may require surgical removal as her right eye did in 2007. Notice that her face is still scarred due to people leaving a "too tight" halter on her for "too long". Here she does not have to wear a halter, more than a few minutes at a time, and only when necessary to move her from one place to another. She and Lakota live happily here at the Triple O Ranch Equine Sanctuary