Blind horses are cautious about their surroundings and should be taught about the fences surrounding their enclosure and any
unusual obstacles in the field. Horses make mental maps of terrain and are very good at remembering boundaries. Many endurance
riders pre-ride sections of trail that they know they will have to ride at night during competition. They find that even one
pass-over trail can be remembered by some horses, and that information will be valuable later. Most blind horses seem to develop
this mental mapping ability, so showing them gates, fences and trees is important. Be careful to remove wires or low-hanging
tree limbs that they might encounter. Show these horses where water and food sources are, and if necessary, spread gravel
around problem areas so that the blind horse can feel the difference in footing and have an idea as to location. It will take
time but many horses learn to negotiate their pastures with surprising ease and confidence.
Social interactions are difficult for blind horses. Much of normal equine behavior is controlled by visual cues — swishing
tail and flattened ears for anger and so forth. Unable to see these clues and act appropriately, the blind horse usually falls
to the bottom of the social order, and some horses will even pick on and ostracize a blind herd mate. Finding a buddy animal
for a blind pasture horse is important, and there are some horses that will readily accept this role. These animals can be
fixed with an attached bell so that the blind horse will be able to hear and follow or stay close to its companion. Goats
and other animals often do well in this special role.
There are times when equine practitioners must deal with selected behavioral issues in order to provide quality care to both
their clients and their horses. Unfortunately, because these problems are encountered rather infrequently, many veterinarians
might not fully understand how to approach these cases. Identifying the cause of abnormal behavior is the first step, and
it can help clients greatly to understand why their horses are acting in unusual ways.