Challenging times

Another couple of weeks into lockdown and these last ones have been a bit of a challenge! As some of you may know, if you follow us on social media, Ron unfortunately had his eye removed. So now we’re in the recovery period and hopefully getting back on board as soon as we can. The plan initially with these blogs was to talk about how he was coping with being blind, any changes we had to make and how we dealt with it on a daily basis. However with the current situation I’ve decided to write this blog about how Ron became blind and how we’ve got to where we are now.

Where it all began…

Going to back to November 2017 all was well and Ron was on top form. Having just qualified for Badminton Grassroots 2018 a couple of months prior we were beginning to think about our fitness plans and what we needed to work on to make sure we were in the best shape possible.

I went down to the yard as normal one morning, and noticed Ron had a small blue mark in his eye, which wasn’t there the day before, so the vets came out and had a look. We came to the conclusion that he may have knocked it overnight and this was just a reaction. We were giving him some medication and eye drops but over the next week, it was getting progressively worse each day.

We decided he would need to see an eye specialist, so Ron went off to Rowe Equine in Gloucestershire, where he stayed for a week to be monitored. By this point, his eye had pretty much all turned bright blue, apart from a section in the middle which made him look like he had a ‘cat’s eye’. It was here he was diagnosed with Endotheliitis, of course, a very rare condition, which basically means ‘inflammation of the cornea’. 

We discussed various options, including an implant within the eye, however this contained steroids. If he had this he would no longer have been able to event, as it would come up in blood tests.

With Badminton fast approaching and a big dream of mine being to compete there, we wanted to do everything possible to try and get there. We decided we monitor him from home as the changing colour had seemed to level off, and stopped where it was for a while.

Ron was absolutely fine in himself and came home. Initially we weren’t sure if he was going to jump again, but luckily he hadn’t changed – even with now very limited sight!

5 months later we made it to Badminton which was an amazing experience for both of us and I couldn’t have been more proud of him! 

Coping on a daily basis

Over the course of the next couple of years, Ron’s eye would occasionally flair up with ulcers. We knew that the wind massively affected his eye so whenever he was in the field he wore a fly mask to stop things getting in it. Whenever an ulcer occurred his eye would be very swollen, each time we had the vet out and they would stain it to see where it was and then he would have the medication. He would have Chloramphenicol eye drops and also we would have some of his blood spun to leave the white blood cells and this would also be put back in his eye twice daily.

Once the ulcer had died down Ron would then have Maxitrol drops as well to help. We had to be careful, and time all this with when we were due out competing, as we had to allow certain amounts of time for the drugs to be out of his system! Now, this didn’t occur often, maybe twice a year at a push, and Ron would get over it really quickly after a couple of days and be back to normal. 

Moving into this year…

Throughout the 2 1/2 years this was all going on, Ron’s sight had deteriorated and he pretty much had no vision at all, if any. His eye was now entirely blue and people used to tell me all the time at shows how unique he looked. As soon as I said he was blind, they were always shocked that he was still competing and doing everything.

He was still exactly the same horse and gave me a fantastic ride every time we went out, being blind hadn’t affected him at all! The only time I had to change the way we rode a line was if we had a tight angle across two fences to the right, I either had to take them on a much wider line or on a straight line so he could see both fences as early as possible.

Becoming a one-eyed wonder pony

A couple of weeks ago Ron had another flair up with an ulcer, and when the vets came and stained his eye, it was clear that it had gotten much worse and was beginning to get calcium on it. We made the decision straight away to operate and take the eye out, my vet and I had always agreed we would know when the right time was to remove it.

He had coped so well over the last couple of years but it was inevitable that at some point in his life it would have to be removed. A few days later Ron went off to Rossdales and everything went smoothly. On every update from the vet, they told me how easy he was and wasn’t bothered by it all, which really doesn’t surprise me. Anyone who knows Ron will know that it takes a hell of a lot to get a reaction from him, as he’s so chilled all of the time!

He came home the next day patched up and obviously feeling much better as he tanked the yard staff at Rossdales across the yard and then me when I got him back to the yard! 

We’re now two weeks post-surgery and Ron is coping so well. He isn’t fazed at all and luckily having already been blind he hasn’t really changed at all. The bandages are all off and the swelling is beginning to go down, it actually looks so much better than I imagined and I almost prefer it to when he had a blue eye! Hopefully, in the next few weeks, we can look at getting back on board, depending on lockdown but fingers crossed!

Who knows, we may even get another run at BE towards the end of the season if everything starts up again! 

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