Mandy always wanted to ride in the snow. I told her stories of when I was a kid, how much fun it was to ride in the snow. But be careful! The horses like to roll in the snow, and will often drop and roll even in mid-stride while riding! She couldn't wait for snow to come so she could ride in snow.
The day came. The stars aligned. It snowed, nice fluffy snow, not wet, sloppy or icy snow. It was sunny and relatively warm out, around 28-30 degrees. It was a Sunday, so we all had the day off. Perfect! Finally Mandy could ride her horse in the snow! It was a gorgeous, sunny day, with fresh snow, and the sun was reflecting off the fresh white snow. A beautiful scene!
Mandy tacked up, just bareback with a sidepull, that Jen is used to all the time. But Jen was NOT herself. At all. She was tossing her head, she was fretting. She even crow-hopped and kept throwing bucks! This was NOT like Jen at all, and she was not working out of it, she was actually getting worse. It wasn't feeling "fresh" from the cold, because it was quite warm out. It wasn't tack, because there was none. Could it be the snow? But she LIVED in the snow. When it was clear Jen was getting more and more upset, I, as the protective Mom, went into the roundpen to see if I could figure out what the problem was.
When I walked in, Jen dropped her head down, closed her eyes, and pressed her head to my chest and sighed. Her shoulders were shaking and quivering. She was NOT cold. I checked her all over, hear ears, her chest, she was quite warm. She wasn't shivering from cold, it was 30 degrees. She is, as of this writing, blanketless at 0f and below. It wasn't the temperature. Jen was scared. Not just scared, she was quivering in fear. Why? The neighbors kids were out playing, and their dog was out, but that was nothing new. And she relaxed as soon as I was there on the ground near her. And I noticed she was keeping her eyes closed. And there was just a very slight bit of clear tearing. I walked over to her right side, and waved my hand in front of her open eye. Nothing, no reaction. Waved my hand in front of her left eye. She blinked a little when I got very close.
The vet came out a couple of weeks later. Jen is almost completely blind. She is totally blind in her right eye, and has very limited vision in her left eye.
She has been this way for a very long time. The vet found evidence of very old scar tissue in her eyes. She was likely almost this blind when we got her almost 6 years ago.
It all makes sense now. Why Auntie Lakota took over the care for Ana, Jen only nursed her, but Auntie Lakota taught her how to behave. How Jen always would "run up your ass", always had to stand so close to you that she was almost touching you. Why she always turned herself to put you on her left side. Why she kicked out at my son when he jumped into her stall. Why April, the companion mini, never left Jen's side if Jen was away from the heard. Why Jen was SO herdbound that it took over a year to get her comfortable walking away from the herd, within the confines of the paddock. Why Jen is "the horse" in every herd that is always dinged up. Bumped/scraped eye, ran a stick in her coronary, trips over stumps and rocks, scrapes and bumps on her nose. Why April is always on Jen's right side. Why Jen freaks out and scoots if a higher herd member (Lakota or Whinney) are on her right side. Why she always shuts her eyes and clenches her jaw when she is resisting or upset over something. Why she is always bumping us with her muzzle and head, touching and in your face.
All the work that we've done with this horse, all the trust that has been built up. Has been for more than "just" a decade of abuse, more than "just" a decade of neglect, more than a "just" a decade of pumping out foals, more than "just" a decade of starvation. She has been blind through all this as well.