By TAMARA GAINER
Ophelya is a 7 year old Belgian draft horse. From what we can piece together about her past she was a lead mare on an Amish hitch team. At some point she started to lose her sight.
Not being able to see is a scary thing for humans. Now imagine you’re an animal whose instincts tell you to RUN at the first sign of danger, and now that danger is something you can’t see.
So, suddenly Ophelya is no longer a good work horse. What happens to her? She is taken to an auction in Pennysylvania.
New Holland livestock auction is not one of those fancy sales barns were horses come in groomed to perfection and sell for top dollar. In fact it is just the opposite, and ‘top dollar’ is usually paid by the pound from the Kill Buyers. This is where so called ‘unwanted’ horses end up. The horses here are not all sick or old or injured or useless. Most just need a second chance. Ophelya was in need of a second chance, or she faced the fate of being bought, by the pound, and making an alarming and dangerous journey ending her life in a slaughterhouse.
So, there she was — blind — in a strange place, terrified, and surrounded by the smell of fear. Who wants a 2000 pound horse that is so afraid she is ready to jump out of her skin? Most people would have only seen a 2000 pound accident waiting to happen. Not the folks at New Life Equine Rescue. They saw Ophelya for exactly what she was, a good strong healthy horse in a bad place needing to go home with someone willing to give her some love, attention and patience. It wasn’t until later they would find out the poor girl couldn’t see.
The good people at NLER knew that a special home was needed for this special girl. That’s when they contacted us at Double G Stable & Farms. We specialize in retraining blind horses so that they are functional again.
When I first met Ophelya she had just traveled from MD to NC and was more than a bit nervous. It took a lot of convincing to get her from the trailer to the stall. I thought for sure we had a long road ahead.
We started slowly and built Ophelya’s confidence up one day at a time. We found her a foster dad who provided lots of love and understanding and of course belly rubs. In no time at all Ophelya was thriving. She was doing so well we decided to move up our timeframe and try to get her riding again.
I have long maintained that a happy horse is a horse with a job. Even if that job is to babysit weanlings in a pasture, they need a job. Ophelya proved my theory the second we put a saddle on her. She was suddenly full of life and vigor. She moved faster than she had the entire 2 months prior. She knew she was going back to work.
Today Ophelya and her dad take trail rides together. She walks around a pasture with 2 other blind horses and her favorite Donkey. She knows how to listen for the food buckets, and find her way to dinner. She can even find a treat hidden in a pile of hay in under 5 seconds. Her dad has a beautiful and trusting horse, and she has a person who loves her and knows she was never useless! Best of all, she never will be ‘unwanted’ again.