Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Until the Day He Dies

With 3 months to go, 2010 has been a tough year.  It was supposed be a year of bliss and happiness as I set off down the road of retirement.  But instead it has been filled with more heartbreak and sadness then in all of the years I've owned horses put together.

Cisco:  My been/there, done/that, confidence builder Quarter Horse.  I was so excited to have the time to ride him at home or head out on the trails around our home during the work week once I retired.

Two weeks after I retired I lost Cisco as noted in my Post on January 13, 2010, "A Sad Day."

Champ (Want My Autograph):  The hard-headed, opinionated performance horse I inherited from our daughter when she moved onto college.  Many of my Posts in 50+ and my short-lived (http://www.lifeplushorses.blogspot.com/) are written around Champ.

Champ was a real challenge for me.  I can't count the times I wanted to chicken out (or did chicken out) when I was headed up to ride this talented but obstinate horse.

Many times I'd rather have been doing anything but going up to ride this nasty beast.  Oh the excuses I'd come up with to avoid facing those rides!  But never have I felt the high and sense of accomplishment that I got when I did ride.  Nothing tops that successful feeling - or was it the joy of being alive?  Not sure.

Champ taught me so much.  He pushed my envelope.  I read up on Ground Work and applied the tools.  I established myself as the Leader of our Herd.  My rides became predictable and Champ and I bonded into an incredible relationship.

We were well on our way to becoming an intuitive team.  The day after the most incredible ride I'd ever had on any horse in my life,  (http://www.lifeplushorses.blogspot.com/  "A +10 Day", June 23, 2010), Champ became ill.  Six days later we put Champ down.  My family and I still grieve over this bigger than life, bright red Paint who eventually became putty in my hands.

But I was so lucky.  While I was preoccupied with Champ, I'd held off on replacing Cisco at home.  I had a mental list of what I wanted in my next horse.  I could recite that list in my sleep (in fact I did).  But I wasn't on the hunt for a new horse.  Champ and our challenges had my days filled.

Two weeks before I lost Champ I met Poco.  He exceeded every expectation I'd ever had.  I looked forward to having him at home to ride.  I envisioned offering him out to ride to my novice friends.  I couldn't wait to haul Poco and Champ to Cabin Creek and go trail riding.

Now without Champ, Poco became my only riding horse.  His kind heart and gentle ways helped me through those early days of Champ's loss.

I had passed on a pre-purchase exam for Poco, thinking what did I need to know about a 21-year old horse?  Poco was in great shape and I had references from personal contacts who knew him before I bought him.

But something hasn't been right with Poco.  Weepy eyes had me accounting it to the flies.  I frequently cleaned his eyes but recently I noticed that Poco seemed to have an issue with movement on his right side, causing him to spook (so unlike him).  After a ride he'd stand with his eyes closed.  Fellow riders remarked about how I'd worn him out and he was "sleeping".  It worried me.

I had the vet come out to take a look at Poco's eyes.  The diagnosis is Moon Blindness.  My horse is going blind.  His right eye is already pretty much gone.

Would I have passed on Poco if I'd had a pre-purchase exam?  Probably yes.  So I'm glad I didn't have one because of all the horses I've owned, Poco ranks in the top 5.  I'm glad I bought him.  Who knows what might have happened to him if I hadn't?

Pity isn't going to help Poco in the future, but an assured rider will.  And for a 50+ rider who has worked hard on her confidence, this is just the Call I need to show Poco how assured I can be.

My commitment to this horse will be about comfort and trust.  Moon Blindness is painful.  I've got a meds if needed and my vet has versed me on degrading danger signs as well as assuring me to call him if things become worse.

Although I've been warned by my vet to not take Poco to unfamiliar places where he might have issues, I plan to continue to ride Poco, starting with the confines of the indoor arena with a goal of keeping him in touch with the world he used to see so clearly.  What we do will depend on his comfort zone both physically and mentally.  I refuse to force or push him into some place where he isn't comfortable.  But I also refuse to baby or pity him.

Poco will be my horse until the day he dies. 

And I sure hope that's a long way off.


  1. Crap. You have had a rough year. I am sorry to hear about Poco's moon blindness, but your approach to his illness is exactly what he needs. He needs someone with your confidence and positive attitude to keep him strong and focused. I think things happen for a reason and Cisco and Champ helping you with your confidence and skills prepared you for Poco. It was meant to be? I commend you for taking on this challenge, where so many wouldn't. I think that this relationship will probably bring out the best in both of you because of the trust and work involved.

  2. So sorry to hear of your hard losses, and all in one year.

    Poco is lucky to have you guide him through what is sure to be scary for him. This too will have it's challenges, and more so worthwhile rewards.

    I will never forget years ago, meeting a sweet rescue horse that was completely blind. I didn't know until I standing in the middle of the herd with my two young kids. He followed his best pal around in the herd at his forever home - and was quiet and content. They knew. Maybe getting Poco a buddy would help him out when you are not with him? Just a thought. Let us know how things go with your sweet guy.

  3. You have had a difficult year indeed. Poco is a lucky boy.

  4. do what you can to show him boundries now in his world. I have an appy mare who is blind in one eye and the other eye is getting bad from moon blindness but she is the best riding horse I have and she pulls a buggy. She knows me and trusts me, that is what it's all about. She's 22 years old and I wouldn't give her up for any amount of money in the world.

  5. There's a great website about this - google "blind horses". Pretty inspiring.

    I'm sorry you've had a rough year. We've had a year where everything we touch seems to just turn into a disaster.

    2011 can't get here soon enough.

  6. Sheri, you are such a good writer, I have tears in my eyes or a smile on my face so often when I read your blog ..tears of joy, tears of sadness, and smiles of laughter and of recognition. I know Poco.. he is a luv bug... a lucky horse who found his horse heaven...this winter will be better for sure!

  7. I agree 2010 has been a crappy year. I'm sorry yours has been so bad. :( They say it comes in threes so hopefully the moon blindness is the third and last! Now you can move on and you and Poco can be happy and learn to work through the eyesight problems. My dog has the equivalent of moon blindness only for dogs but her's isn't bad enough to affect her eyesight yet. She just has to have the cyclosporine drops. I heard somewhere that they can do cyclosporine implants on horses with moon blindness and that it works really great and lasts for years. I don't know how much it is or if his is too far advanced, but it's probably something worth checking into. Good luck!