When horses begin to lose their eyesight, their owners immediately think they can no longer live a happy life and prepare to euthanize the loving creatures. But a 31-year-old blind Appaloosa, living at the Catskill Animal Sanctuary, is showing the world how blind animals can live full lives if only they are given an extra chance.
“We were contacted by Buddy’s owner, a woman who’d had him for his entire life. She was not in a position to care for him as a blind animal and was going to euthanize him,” the sanctuary’s founder, Kathy Stevens, told Daily Paws. “This is an extremely common phenomenon—folks don’t have the knowledge or patience [for these animals],
or they don’t want to make the adjustments to make their pasture/barn safer or sometimes, they simply don’t understand that a blind animal can live an incredibly full, joyful life. They think that euthanasia is the most humane option.”
In October this year, the sanctuary opened its gates to welcome Buddy to his new home. While the average lifespan of a horse is 25–30 years, those at the sanctuary believe Buddy still has some good years left to live, and they soon began helping him understand his new environment better.
Buddy has learned his commands and gotten used to the changes in terrain. And more than anything, the blind animal has people he can trust at the Catskill Animal Sanctuary.
“Working with him was truly a matter of applying common sense when answering the question: What additional support do blind animals need in order to feel safe and confident?” Kathy said. “And oh my goodness, he’s incredibly smart! I was blown away by how quickly he ‘learned his words’: up, down, stop, choppy, water, and so on.”
“Teaching Buddy language also communicates loudly and clearly that you’ve ‘got their back,’ so it’s an important trust builder,” Kathy added.
Although Kathy has about two decades worth of experience rescuing blind horses, she admits it is not an easy task. Nevertheless, she has formed an incredible bond with Buddy, who has several other horses and blind animals to keep him company at the sanctuary. He has become good mates with another horse named Buddy as well as a 35-year-old blind Appaloosa, who is the oldest animal currently residing at the sanctuary.
Source: Catskill Animal Sanctuary
“At night, their stalls are next to each other, and we cut a large window in the wall so they could nuzzle and feel less isolated,” Kathy said about the horses.
Buddy is an absolute treat to have around, and he is evening trying to make his friends circle bigger by meeting Mario the pig, Chester and Arlo the wonder goats, and Tucker the Holstein steer.
Like all the other animals in the sanctuary, Kathy hopes that Buddy, too, will be able to live out the last few years of his life with happiness and dignity.
“Every animal is remarkably individual. While most of us only understand this about dogs and cats, it’s the same regardless of species,” she said. “Every pig, every chicken, every blind horse, every cow, no matter their age, wants their lives as we want ours, and much like our companion animals, they require extra support to grow old with joy and dignity.”