Here’s an amazing story from a reader, that she tells so matter of factly, that I wonder if she even realises how big and how beautiful it is. I can only imagine the care and dedication that has gone into and continues’s to go into the care of Indiano.
I have a beautiful 6 Year old Andalusian gelding called Indiano who, sadly, went blind 18 months ago after somehow suffering a ruptured spleen whilst out in his pasture one day – possibly from a kick? – or fell on a stone? – anyway, due to heavy internal bleeding he shunted the blood supply back from his eyes to save his vital organs and starved his optic nerve of oxygen, resulting in total blindness.
However his temperament is outstanding and he copes marvellously – so laid back about everything – and now is even able to live out in a small pasture again with a group of four other gentle geldings.
With the help of a more experienced rider/trainer he has been ridden again, by him and then by me. Since that trainer moved away I have had really good help with clicker training from an animal behaviourist and help from a local classical riding instructor and owners of my livery yard, but I have also had to spend a lot more time working on my own with Indiano which I’ve found quite challenging.
Of course his ‘Oh Shit zone’ is slightly different than for sighted horses and he generally wants to be as close to me as possible – which makes things like lunging and other aspects of groundwork quite tricky.
Naturally I don’t want to get trodden on – and he does seem to know where I am at all times, but he can quickly get stressed when I ask for new groundwork/in-hand movements, and then so can I. This is where your idea of stepping out of the comfort zone just for a few minutes, and then back in, has been quite wonderful!! I always used to feel I had to push myself to do more than that – but as you say, once we both stay close enough to the comfort zone my own panic feelings subside – and so do his.
I’m very interested in trying to communicate with him in the best ways possible – especially as communication by sight is not an option, and in our work together it has been really useful to think about ‘whose fear is it?’ when things start to feel bit rushed or edgy. If I take things slowly enough I don’t feel fear – but as soon as I try to miss out a step or building block in our little routine of groundwork movements, or push on to something new too quickly, I can start to feel tense – and I now realise for the first time that it may be me picking up on his feelings of fear about what I am asking him to do – so quite an eye opener – and all I need to do is step back to where we were both comfortable, and then build up again more slowly.
Thankyou so much for putting all your ideas into print – you’re doing a grand job and a great service to horses whose riders find this info.
Click here to get the completely FREE lessons The 9 Keys to Happiness with Your Horse – which contains some of the information that Carol is talking about here.