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Boo the Blind Horse

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Nigel Baker
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Boo the Blind Horse

Postby Nigel Baker on Thu Jul 30, 2009 5:23 pm

Redwings is the largest horse sanctuary in the UK and has over 1000 horses, ponies, donkeys and mules in its direct care.
The Story of Boo is just one case that illustrates how Redwings give horses a second chance through the dedication of their staff and volunteers. It has been a privilege for me to work with them on this project and I have promised to work with them again in the future.

Blind Boo Melts our Hearts

A stunning Clydesdale gelding has survived against all the odds to remind us that every equine and each welfare case is unique.

Boo and his companion, Buckaroo, were much loved and living happily in their Surrey home when they were the victims of a brutally violent attack. Both equines were shot in one eye at point blank range with an airgun as they grazed in their field. The gun pellets lodged in each eye socket, but incredibly, Boo and Buckaroo both survived. Buckaroo underwent surgery to remove the remains of his eye along with the airgun pellet, but Boo's situation was more complex as he had already lost one eye to cancer several years before.Whereas Buckaroo could adjust fairly easily to life with his remaining, healthy eye, Boo was left completely blind.

In many cases sudden loss of vision is too much for a horse to cope with and they show clear signs of distress as they struggle to orientate themselves. Unless the distress can be very quickly alleviated, the only humane option is to put the horse to sleep. The first indication of Boo's remarkable temperament was the fact that he showed no sign of anxiety at his sudden blindness at all. More challenges lay ahead, however, as his current living arrangements were not suitable for a blind equine and he either needed to be moved or put to sleep. As a general rule, moving a blind horse to a new home would not be considered as they rely so heavily on their vision to adjust to new surroundings. But Boo's owner felt that her horse had shown himself worthy of a chance at life and with veterinary support and careful planning, Boo was moved a few miles away to a temporary home while his owner started investigating whether there were any possible long term solutions.

Boo's owner had detailed conversations with Redwings' experienced welfare team and one of our most experienced veterinary surgeons spoke at length to the Surrey vet who had been treating Boo and Buckaroo. Although in any other case the conclusion would have almost certainly have been that moving a blind horse to a new home with new carers was not something we would consider, but the evidence was that Boo was very much an exception to the norm in the incredible way he had adjusted to his blindness with no sign of anxiety and the fact that he had already moved home once and taken everything in his stride.

Boo proved to be more than worth the second chance he was offered. He travelled with no sign of stress at all and was happily munching at his hay net when the ramp was lowered on arrival at Redwings. His owner lead Boo to a carefully chosen stable where he was to settle in and get to know the Redwings staff who would be looking after him. A friendly equine neighbour was also helped reassure him and feel at home. After several days of getting to know his new human companions (who absolutely adore him!) Boo was ready to be introduced to a specially adapted paddock which was to be his new home. With his new friend by his side, our team methodically introduced Boo to his new field, walking him round the perimeter and reassuring him as he used his other senses to help him adjust to the new environment. True to his calm and intelligent nature, Boo took it all his stride and was soon grazing in the sunshine as if he had been with us for years.

Redwings' Head of Veterinary Services, Nicola Jarvis, assessed Boo's damaged eye and was pleased to find that. although the airgun pellet was still in place, the area had stabilised and showed no sign of infection or ongoing trauma. This meant that surgery to remove the pellet and the eye was not necessary, though the eye is vulnerable to problems in the future and will be monitored very carefully. Our veterinary team has extensive experience of conditions which affect the eye and vision defects, though none of the staff has seen a tragic case like Boo's before. Redwings will ensure that Boo receives the very best in veterinary support alongside the very special TLC that our equine care teams are providing for this truly exceptional horse who is with us against all the odds.

The police carried out a thorough investigation into the attack on Boo and Buckaroo, but sadly the perpetrator of such pointless and unimaginable cruelty has never been identified.

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Nigel Baker
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Re: Boo the Blind Horse

Postby Nigel Baker on Thu Jul 30, 2009 5:27 pm

Boo with Handler Amy in quarantine at Redwings
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Re: Boo the Blind Horse

Postby Nigel Baker on Thu Jul 30, 2009 5:31 pm

Boo with Amy again but this time in his paddock
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Re: Boo the Blind Horse

Postby Nigel Baker on Thu Jul 30, 2009 5:33 pm

Boo and his constant companion Victor (retired adoption Shire) on their own paddock at Redwings' headquarters site. Victor has three small bells plaited into his mane so Boo can always locate and follow his friend with ease.
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Re: Boo the Blind Horse

Postby Nigel Baker on Thu Jul 30, 2009 5:35 pm

Boo standing ears pricked in his Paddock
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Re: Boo the Blind Horse

Postby Nigel Baker on Thu Jul 30, 2009 5:37 pm

He is confident enough to have a trot too!
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Re: Boo the Blind Horse

Postby Kathy Higgins on Fri Jul 31, 2009 1:26 am

Why someone would do something like that to a defenseless animal is unfathomable. It's trully disguisting and sickening. Thank goodness for the Redwings sanctuary and the people who work/volunteer there. It is heartwarming to see Boo happy now and even trotting. He's a beauty. Thanks Nigel so much for sharing his unbelievable story.
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Re: Boo the Blind Horse

Postby Karen Bayerl on Fri Jul 31, 2009 11:22 am

Thank you so much for sharing this story Nigel. While it is so hard to wrap our minds around the awful things that happen out in the world, it is truly a blessing that there are people out there who truly care. Thank goodness for Redwings and everyone involved, and thank you Nigel.

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Re: Boo the Blind Horse

Postby Laura Cotterman on Sun Aug 02, 2009 11:29 am

Nigel, I saw your post about Boo on Facebook awhile back and was sort of dreading reading your article to be honest. I say dreading because I am so appalled by the cruelty of someone who would blind an animal. Yet, I am uplifted by knowing that somehow the best situation was found for Boo and that he has a good quality of life. Fair dues to you for taking on this difficult story and balancing conveying the horror of the crime with the caring outcome.
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Re: Boo the Blind Horse

Postby Rachael Waller on Sun Aug 02, 2009 11:46 am

thank you for sharing your story.

It warmed my heart to see Boo with such joy in his life.

All the best,
Rachael
"I was born on the prairies where the wind blew free and there was nothing to break the light of the sun."-Geronimo

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Nigel Baker
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Re: Boo the Blind Horse

Postby Nigel Baker on Mon Aug 03, 2009 5:16 am

Thank you for your comments. at the outset when I discussed the project with Redwings I didnt want to take 'Pity" type shots, I wanted to show Boo as the magnificent horse he is with a quality of life given to him by redwings, it was also important to show a human element as it was people that helped him settle in and will look after him for the rest of his life.


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