Alayne took two calls in the last 24 hours from people whose horses had gone blind, and their vets had told them they should just put the animals down. Both individuals actually wanted to keep their blind horses, and had called us seeking more information on how to care for them.
This, unfortunately, we see a lot. Too often equine vets immediately tell their clients to euthanize their blind horses, and they trot out (no pun intended) all the old myths about blind horses -- they're dangerous, they can't have a good quality of life, it's inhumane to keep them alive, etc.
It's not because these vets lack compassion or don't care. It's usually because they simply don't know any better and have very limited experience with blind horses. Much of their experience is confined to the initial period when a horse is losing its vision, and the animal is frightened and upset at the encroaching blindness. That's generally when the client calls the vet.
What happens is that too many vets extrapolate from this early stressful period that the horse will ALWAYS be like this, rather than seeing it as a temporary phase and allowing the horse time to adjust. (Wouldn't you be scared to death if YOU started going blind?) Thus they end up counseling their clients to euthanize their blind horses as the "only humane thing to do."
So we've realized that we need to reach out to the equine vet community with our message about blind horses. To that end, we are going to attend the annual convention of equine vets (the American Association of Equine Practitioners) this December in Seattle. We will have an exhibit at their trade show to promote our BlindHorses.org Web site, hand out our blind horse brochure, and talk with as many vets as possible. The image you see here is a mock-up of what our 8-foot wide exhibit display looks like. The dominant photo is our beautiful blind mare Lena.
(Click on photo for larger image.)