We call her Big, Old Bessy Girl and believe me, she is all that and so much more. A mighty Appaloosa, approximately 39 years old and completely blind, Bess was a force to be reckoned with when she first came to live at the sanctuary and more than a couple of times, sent my husband diving into the dirt to escape the wrath of her powerful back legs. If we tried to approach her, she would swing her head violently from side to side as if to say, “Don’t you dare come any closer!” And for quite some time, we didn’t.
Blind horses cannot turn away and run from that which frightens them. Their only recourse is to face the fear head on. Bess’ approach was to puff up her massive chest, strike a pose and courageously stand her ground. As fearful as I was of her, I so admired her bravery. Not wanting to add to her anxiety, or ours, we decided the best course of action was to just leave her be. We would visit with her many times every day, but always from afar. If she happened to be standing near the fence line upon our approach, she would quickly move to the center of the paddock.
I was beginning to wonder if we would ever gain her trust and then one day, one very special day, she sauntered over to say “hello”. I will never forget the moment. I like to think it was as magical for her, as it was for us.
It is our policy that all horses at the sanctuary have a buddy, but try as we might; we could not find a buddy for Bess. Her dominance over the other horses always lead to tense situations until one day, a tiny, malnourished, five week old blind filly named Ciara came to live at the sanctuary. It was “love at first sight” for these two blind horses. Theirs is truly a match made in heaven.
Today, Bess is calm, polite and very, very gentle. She has found her way, and she has found her purpose in Ciara. We are so happy for her.