Sunday, 15 January 2012

Baby Blue Eyes.

I don't know when I first noticed it exactly, but it must be some 2-3 months ago from the date of this post. I had noticed a slight blue tinge to Hillary's eyes, but looking in other horse's eyes, I realised that there were some horses who also had blue tinges. So I put it to the back of my mind.

By this time, I had done so well that I had even had a couple of lessons going over some jumps. An aspiration of mine was for Hills and me to go to Somerford to do the cross country there when I got confident and competent enough. So I wanted (with a really large degree of nerves) to have a little practice. Hills is from Ireland so I believe, and has a wicked jump. She leaps everything with a huge enthusiasm, and even after a lunging session and a lesson, her ears still prick up when she sees a jump being set up. In truth, I really wanted to start jumping again.

One evening, I was talking to Olivia, who was showing me a 'likit' that her horse Ryan was enjoying. They are full of nutrients, and so I was keen to find out whether they would be suitable for Hillary as she remains on a strict diet. Olivia gave the treat to me to show Hills, and she found it so tasty, she nearly pushed me over licking it. I put the treat (in a large bright orange box) on the floor. Hillary put her head down, but didn't seem to be able to locate the box, despite it smelling of treacle. It was only when she put her hoof in it, that she realised where it was; she continued licking it. Both Olivia and I thought it was weird. I showed Olivia the blue in her eyes, and at that point it was decided to get the vet up. Luckily, one of the others was due their jabs soon, and so I asked if it would be possible to tag along to them to share the call out fee.

The problem was though, that it was niggling away at me, and so the next time I saw Gaynor, I got her to have a look. Between the three of us (Olivia, Gaynor and I), we guessed it would most likely be cataracts. However, we didn't really have a clue, and so, impatiently, I pushed for the vet to come sooner.

Cataracts was ruled out straight away. The vet shone the light in her eyes and decided that although there was a definite blue looking opacity, there were no cataracts. He gave me some drops, suggesting an inflammation of the eye ball. They were to be administered three times a day, and I was to call in two days to let him know if the cloudiness had subsided. It didn't.

Again, he recommended some drops, this time a steroid medication with the same dosage instructions. This made a little difference, but nothing major, and a blue line had began to line the edge of her eye. The drops made the cloudiness move away from the iris and more into the pupil. She looked as if someone had blown cigarette smoke into her eye. It was a sort of blue cloud. I rang the vet again, and he recommended that he'd better visit again.

I brought my mum up to this visit for support, as I'd been told that the likely problem was equine recurrent uveitis, which is a regular flare up of the eye. It is painful and requires medication. I felt sick thinking that this terrible condition had befallen my horse. The vet was there when I arrived and had brought an eye specialist.

"It's cataracts." The specialist said. "Medically, they're incurable."

I felt floored to be honest. I was relieved she wouldn't have to have medication, and that she wasn't in pain, but I felt absolutely floored. She has cataracts.

The vet, after a long examination, explained that Hills already has a degree of loss quite significant to the lower peripheral vision, which was the reason she couldn't see the bright orange box. We can no longer do any jumping or even pole work, and hacking out is only safe if every precaution is taken. I can still school, but whatever I do, I have to be aware that she can't see well, and that her sight is deteriorating.

Hillary has to be checked every three months; the first check up will be March 2012. She will never be better, but we can't say as yet how long the cataracts will develop. Many horses develop cataracts in one eye, and still live normal lives, some even eventing. However Hillary has them in both, her left eye being less affected than the right.

I felt like a huge blow had been delivered.

I had heard that my friend's horse had gone into the animal hospital for tests. She was a beautiful animal; a picture of health, and the most loving, kind personality you could ever imagine. I text her owner to see how she was getting on. The reply was swift; she had an incurable brain tumour, and was about to be put to sleep. I sat in my car in tears.

I don't know why things seem to happen to the nicest kindest people and animals. I will miss her, Georgie, and will always remember her with a sense of peace remembering what a beautiful creature she was. There is an old saying that 'heaven is seen in the space between the ears of a horse.' I'm absolutely certain her owners knew this with Georgie.

I have to look forward with Hillary, and know that although she has cataracts, and is going blind, she is still here, with me. I cannot possibly ask for more. She is my Blue-Eyed Disco Dancer, and I am grateful for every second.

RIP Georgie. Missed and loved, always, Sarah and Hillary x x

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