A Red Gelding Diary, Just For Today

All is well with Bonnie, but today I want to tell you a story about another red racehorse.  A 5-year-old gelding with lots of chrome.  His name is Lion.

Lion leading the pack in a 2009 race. Image is from Flickr, copyright EVENT OF THE YEAR PHOTOS (Kathleen Toler)

I work at an equine hospital in central Florida.  We are a surgical center and often get referral cases from other vets.  On Monday, Lion arrived in the hospital.  He still wore racing plates on all four feet and he was oh-so fit, but quiet and sweet in spite of it.   A subpalpebral lavage had been put into his right eye to treat a very bad eye ulcer.  Complications from the eye ulcer and infection had resulted in a temporary paralysis of the whole right side of his face. I work the grueling overnight shift, and every two hours I medicated his eye through the catheter.  On Tuesday, though, the vets discovered that his eye had actually ruptured.  He no longer had sight and the eye would need to be removed.  His owners were not on board for such a procedure and opted for euthanasia.

We had 24 hours to find him a home.  For a 5 year old absolutely fit thoroughbred, fresh from the track and recently raced, Lion was sweet, calm, and seemed to be an ideal candidate for retraining.  Without a full lameness workup, he seemed sound.  It would have been a shame to put him down.  I contacted everyone I knew who might be able to help.  I had no luck.  Other technicians did the same.   At the end of the day, I was sad that my efforts had not produced an adopter, and I went to work expecting the gelding’s stall to be empty.

It wasn’t.  There he was, munching hay.  Very much alive.

As it turns out, one of my fellow technicians adopted him.  She worked it out with her family and arranged for an ophthalmology resident to do the enucleation procedure.   It is expected that his facial paralysis will resolve when the infection is cleared up and the eye is out.  We all believe that he will be easy to retrain and will make an excellent riding horse.  His new family has dreams of turning him into a barrel horse.  Whatever he ends up doing, though, he will have a happy home.

I feel all warm and fuzzy.




Filed under Bon Appeal, Racing, Retirement Options, Success Stories

9 responses to “A Red Gelding Diary, Just For Today

  1. Now I am all warm and fuzzy too!
    No… really… I have had two horses that were blind in one eye.
    Once they have confidence in you they do fine… But it is important to make certain that if riding in groups that you don’t put an aggressive horse on the horse’s blind side, as it can be broadsided and hurt. Also, if the horse has a trusted horse buddy, you can put that horse on the blind side so it will feel protected.

  2. I was SO worried about this horse. An eye removal is such a simple thing, it seemed ridiculous that he should have to die for it. And of course I have had my own sweet chestnut on my mind. This is such great news! I wonder how many one-eyed horses there are competing out there…

    • I have known a ton of one-eyed horses that competed! Lots of lesson horses, too. One was a pretty fantastic lower-level jumper. Several were dressage horses. We all really felt like Lion would be super trainable. I think that we would have all felt awful if he had not found a home. Today was a really happy, cheerful day at work because of this. 😀

  3. Julie

    The horse of a life time-one that I will never, ever forget was blind in one eye. He was given to me after being retired from reining, a very successful one eyed reiner I might add! He took me riding along the road, through the rain, out at night (not condoning-was a crazy pre-teen!), trail riding, horse shows, you name it and he took me with dignity, and a safety I had never felt with another horse…and have yet to feel again. Special horses come in many size, colors, abilities and disabilities 🙂

  4. Cindy

    Wonderful day at work!

  5. Karen Bennett

    Great news!! Was very worried @ this boy. So happy for him and his new mom. Here’s to many wonderful years together!

  6. I believe there is a one-eyed horse racing here in Nor. Cal (GGF), as a matter of fact. I saw him when they were schooling him in the art of the paddock parade a few months ago and wondered about him. I should figure out who he is.

    Thanks for sharing, Natalie.. what a great story!

  7. I knew a one-eyed showjumper. Actually I just wished she was one-eyed because the eye that she had was all squashy and weird looking. I’m not sure what the point of leaving it in was. But she did high jumpers at HITS and produced at least one stunning colt. She always acted like a bit of a freak, though.

  8. Kari

    So sad that his original owners would decide that sort of fate for him due to his eyesight. There are plenty of one-eyed horses in racing that have done quite well for themselves. How about Pollard’s Vision? Or I Can See? And my favorite one-eyed gelding, Lonely Whistle.

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