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Questions for one-eyed Horse owners (the horse has one eye, not the human) (well I suppose the human could have one eye too, but that's not my question)

My horse had her eye removed in July due to a persistent infection and scarring. She’s adjusted quite well and the stitched skin healed amazingly. Two questions:

I know that my horse needs something to make sure she senses an obstruction on her blind side so I’ve kept a fly mask on. I’m using the most sheer mask I can find to minimize loss of night vision. I’m sorry, there’s no way that standard fly masks don’t hinder their sight on a moonless/overcast night.
But the flip side is that the sheer masks are not durable enough.
I feel like there has to be something I could attach to a breakaway halter that would do the same task-- provide a tactile input when her head gets too close to an obstruction on that side. I know they have halos for blind dogs-- is there anything out there y’all know offor horses? Thought I might try short sections of pool noodles on an oversized halter to create a
2" cushioned “frame” around that part of her head. image
Or I dunno, maybe a fly fringe would be enough.

Second question-- now that the eye socket has fully healed, it’s really sunken in, and collecting lots of dust /skin dander-- especially with a fly mask on all the time. Any tips on how to care for this? I have a small very soft brush, but she’s leery of letting me brush in the socket and I can’t get in there to do anything effective. I haven’t tried running a sponge over it, but not sure adding moisture is a good thing anyway.

I can’t help with the first question, however, the second one I can possibly. I paint. I have one set of brushes I rarely use --they are full, round, soft brushes --more like make up brushes than brushes for oil painting. I DO use them for “dusting” delicate objects --so something similar might work to dust horse’s sensitive eye socket. Wonder if giving treats at the same time would encourage him to allow this: https://www.jerrysartarama.com/creative-mark-natural-goat-hair-mop-oval-brush-1in-90838?gad=1&gclid=Cj0KCQjwmICoBhDxARIsABXkXlJmmXkkYXAPGXRki2SLRLqvmddB6IjcVA5VmmW2P8wYlPMdoOOvQ4gaAutJEALw_wcB


My horse learned very quickly that his sight on one side was gone and he never needed anything to prevent regular head bumps. I used a baby wipe to clean the dust out and used it very gently.


I’ve had the same experience with more than one horse who lost an eye.

Baby wipes or slightly damp soft rags to clean and they wore regular halters/bridles and did fine.

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Let the whiskers and ear hair grow so those hairs can do their tactile sensing jobs. Any lashes as well. The surgical site looks well healed so take off the fly mask. She will be better able to sense things around her sightless side without any coverings over her touch and sound receptors or over her sighted eye.


My first horse lost the vision in one eye (though he kept the eye itself) and lived outside. I don’t remember ever putting a flymask on him, and he didn’t run into things or get injured on his blind side.

I have had to cover one of my third horse’s eyes on a number of occasions when treating eye injuries. He once hit the hay feeder and tore a hole in his shoulder - I suspect he was jumping away from another horse and forgot the feeder was there. Otherwise he’s managed fine.

Given my first horse’s experience I’d probably leave the mask off unless needed for flies.

I can’t specifically address your cleaning the socket question, but my third horse has a scarred eyelid that allows some eyelashes to contact the cornea if there is any swelling in the lid. I regularly have to take tweezers and pull out those eyelashes. I’ve been doing this for years and I don’t need anyone to hold him, or a chain over his nose, or to tie up short, or anything like that. He doesn’t like it (can’t blame him for that!) but he tolerates it, only fussing if I try to do too much at once.

The point being that you can train your horse to permit you to clean the eye socket. Approach it as training instead of something that needs to be done now.


Most horses adapt just fine to having one eye. I’ve never used anything special.

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I never used anything for my pony, he seemed to adjust well, lived another 15 years or so after.

One thing you could try if you find she is bumping into things is to put zip ties over the pool noodle or maybe pipe insulation that isn’t as big, to simulate lashes/whiskers.

I know you need something for night turnout that won’t diminish vision. That said, I used a rambo fly mask that has the frame around the brow area on my half sighted pony and it worked well for her. I’m just throwing this out there in case you need something for day use. She really didn’t need it, it was more for me cause I felt better when she had some protection. And as others suggested I left all her “feelers” long, never trimmed them at all.

There was a lovely paint mare in the school herd who lost an eye years before I met her. She showed absolutely no signs. She was a great therapy horse and did regular lessons too. I think it had to do with a mishap with a foal We had to remember to let new volunteers know so they would be aware. Never trim the wiskers. They are a sensory organ.

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In my experience, they adapt fine. You don’t need to put anything special like fringe or pool noodles on the horse— I promise you they figure it out.

As far as keeping the socket clean, I just used a soft, damp rag or baby wipe. Once it’s healed, there are no worries about moisture. Your horse will become less sensitive about it over time.

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The horse is already equipped to deal with this - let the whiskers do their job. Putting all that stuff over the face is going to dull her ability to sense on that side, not help it. (However, all of the horses at my barn go out at night in the summer with regular fly masks on and do just fine.) I rode a one eyed horse for years and he never wore anything special.

I always cleaned the socket with a slightly damp cloth. You may need to slowly work on her letting you touch it, just as you would if she had a problem with her ears or anything else being touched.


Like others have said, they do fine without anything as long as you leave the whiskers long. I thought mine needed help, especially in night turnout as he had some night vision problems before the eye was removed. He was best friends with his next door neighbor/turnout buddy, and so with that horse’s owners permission we tried putting a bell on his turnout buddy’s halter so he could find him in the dark and follow him. The bell kept ending up in the dirt. After I found it not only off (after we wired it on) but smashed flat in the dirt we gave up - message received. :rofl:

My guy also had scarring in the bottom of the lower part of his remaining eye so had some depth perception issues. He did fine by himself, but came to rely on me to tell him of terrain changes when I was riding him or leading him. One day I was out hand grazing and started leading him up a small hill to the barn, got distracted and forgot to tell him “up” and he face planted in the hill. Boy did I get a dirty look for that one!

As for cleaning the eye socket, I usually used a damp washcloth or wet piece of paper towel. My guy got itchy and really liked having his socket cleaned and rubbed on.

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All I can think of is Aggie the Ass & One Eyed Warry.

Aggie had one eye and so did Warry (Larry had a lisp too), they had opposite eyes. One day Warry was trying to catch Aggie in a turnout that was less than 100’X100’. Took forever as they kept ‘looking’ at each other from the wrong side.

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