For many riders, a horse with cataracts will probably seem like something of a challenge. Maybe even like a horse one would not choose to buy. Fortunately, 15-year-old Sofia Jensen did not feel that way when she bought the Danish warmblood mare C-mig – in everyday speech Cece in December 2020. Because, even though Cece already had cataracts on her left eye back then, there was no doubt that she was the perfect horse for Sofia.[adrotate group=”16″]
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“SHE WAS EVERYTHING I WAS LOOKING FOR”
“She is a show jumper, has a good age, and she is just so beautiful and has a nice personality. It all just fit with the kind of horse I was looking for at the time. So, my parents and I agreed that we could live with her cataracts if only we could get a horse as good as Cece,” Sofia explains.
Cataracts is far from a death sentence. And in many ways Sofia experiences that Cece must be handled in the same way as many other horses with a slightly nervous temper. Thus, cataracts as such do not affect their interaction.
“We had some difficulties in the beginning, but I do not know if it is due to her temperament or her cataracts. She was probably a bit wild because the blood could not get around properly in her eye due to the cataract. It must have given her a headache, and she has only been able to see white out of one eye.”
• An eye disease in a horse can be seen with symptoms like tears, photophobia, redness in the eye and the like, and here it is important to react, to avoid this developing.
Cataracts can occur as a result of another eye disease, but it can also be congenital in some cases.
• Concomitant diseases such as iris inflammation or glaucoma are associated with cataracts, and glaucoma can cause excessive pressure in the eye, which can give the horse a headache.
• The only treatment option is surgery.
• Often an eye disease such as cataracts can be spotted by a change in the behavior from the horse, where it becomes anxious about things that come from behind, from above or from the side.
CATARACTS AND CORDEO
Despite some start-up difficulties, Sofia has stuck with Cece. Even though it has resulted in quite a few trips in the sand for the young rider, but with hard work and confidence, the cataract is not an obstacle.
We really struggled a lot, but after half a year of hard work, we could jump and ride the cordeo. It has required quite a lot of teaching, and then I made sure to remembered to praise her. For example, she passed something that would scare her. At other times it has been a good idea to jump off and walk her past a particular thing, because she feels a great sense of security in me,” Sofia explains.
There are few situations where Sofia can feel that the lack of vision in one eye causes certain problems for Cece. However, this is not something that Sofia thinks about very much.
“She is more high strung than my other pony if we are in a place where there is something she is afraid of. And she also becomes more easily afraid of loud noises if she cannot see where the sound is coming from. That is why it took a lot of patience, but she is just a really nice horse.”
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FROM CATARACTS TO AMPUTED EYE
Cece had probably had cataracts for well over three years when the family bought her. It had not been a problem before, but during the first half year, Cece’s eye began to water.
“We took her to the Agricultural University in Denmark, where she was checked and given some medicine, which worked. But the eye started to tear up again shortly after. The vet told us that there had been a scratch in the cornea, which was probably chronic. This made it necessary to amputate the eye with cataracts, “says Sofia.
Although it was an expensive operation, Cece still went ahead and had the right eye amputated. It is a decision that Sofia fortunately has not regretted. Even though it is of course preferable to have a horse with two eyes, surgery was necessary because Cece had begun feel pain. After the operation, Cece already seems to be feeling better, Sofia explains.
• Follow Sofia and Cece at https://www.instagram.com/hest.sofia/
• Cece is a 12-year-old Danish warmblood mare. As a result of cataracts, she had one eye amputated in June. She had cataracts for well over three years until the eye was amputated, yet she has been used in showjumping in recent years.
MANY GOOD EXPERIENCES DESPITE CATARACTS
Neither cataracts nor a missing eye is a hindrance to Sofia and Cece. Therefore, the ambitions are also towering.
“We have jumped 110 cm. So I have a small hope that we will go to the Christmas Show this year and also be able to start at bigger events. We have had some challenges because of the breaks due to the eye. But if she jumps and has the same joy as before, then we will definitely go after the big events,” says Sofia purposefully.
In many ways, the big competitions were planed from the start when Sofia got Cece. Cece had previously done quite a few competitions, and therefore Sofia had virtually no qualms about buying Cece despite the cataract.
“To begin with, I was afraid that I could not cuddle her on one side, for example, because she cannot see me. But it is more in riding that she can be a little easier to scare with loud noises, for example,” tells Sofia.
There are quite a few things that Sofia has had to do differently in her approach to Cece. The 12-year-old mare has in many ways acted as a good teacher for the young rider. She has learned that it has required both patience and confidence to ride and handle a horse with a visual impairment. It also requires a little extra in handling from the ground, because Cece gets startled quite easily.
“Sometimes there can be paths I cannot take because there may be something that can scare Cece. In addition, I might run to and hug my other pony before I got Cece. But I do not do that anymore because I do not want to scare her,” Sofia explains.
Fortunately, there have been far more good than bad experiences from having a horse with cataracts than Sofia dared to hope for.
“We have been out swimming together, jumped, ridden in cordeo and gone on a lot of nice walks together. She has complete control over what she does when we jump, for example, and she actually works much better bitless. She is just so gentle, and kind and you can really stand for a long time and cuddle with her. I would not trade her for anything – cataracts or not. She is just a real fighter,” says the young rider confidently.
“Cece has really taught me that you should never give up. I am so impressed with what a horse with cataracts can do”
Hillerød Equine Veterinarians: Eye Diseases
Aarhus Animal Hospital’s eye department: Cataracts