As an update for our readers, I will keep a page on the progress of my gelding Spiker who recently had his eye removed in October.
He has adjusted to his new condition extremely well. The vet who performed the surgery speculated that he had already lost most of the vision due to floating debris in the eye, which contributed to his “spooky” behavior. He was becoming difficult to handle, both on the ground and under saddle. Several barn staff members recall stories about strategizing how to get him from his stall to the pasture gate in the mornings, even though it was only 20 feet away.
Now, he’s gone back to his regular self, relaxed and easy-going. It is no longer a battle to get him out to the field, as he walks along quietly and very relaxed. His weight is holding up well and he doesn’t appear to have any health issues at this time.
As for training, my original plan was to longe him to get back some of his fitness (as he’s been off for some time due to my traveling) however I discovered that longing on his “bad” side is not going to happen. He will go along quite well to his left side, with his eye facing me. However, once I change sides so he’s traveling to the right, he will take about one or two steps, stop dead and turn to face me. Even if I can get him trotting, it doesn’t last more than one or two strides before he stops. As an alternative, I have been able to long line or “ground drive” him in double lines. He seems to do much better in that, allowing me to guide him.
This week I finally got back on him (as I have only ridden him once since his surgery). He was fairly spooky in the arena, being in there by himself, with pigeons flying around and snow falling off the roof/horses outside making noise. He kept startling, but otherwise was fairly good. The few following times I have ridden him both outside and then inside, and he was very cooperative and well-behaved. I am sure he will adjust to the arena noises over time. He was never a spooky horse prior to his eye condition, but with only partial vision he became very insecure.
It’s a bitterly cold day today, however I’m sure if I bundle up warmly I will be able to squeak out a short ride. My goal is to get down to the “track” eventually, which is a 1/2 mile trotting track at the back of the farm. There is another barn with some “scary” objects back there and last time I rode him down there he just exploded with fear when some horses and riders burst out of the bush and onto the track. Now that he’s much calmer I hope to do some conditioning work down there to get OUR fitness back (I am fairly out of shape now as well, having been out of the saddle for so long!) once we get settled with hacking on our own. I am going to see if I can find a calmer, more experienced horse to walk with us until he settles in.