Trudy Andrew | Canadian Author

Horse Tails

Tickle the Whiskers

Caring for a blind horse, is an eye opener on many levels. Lucky Jim hasn’t been the challenge, we were warned he would be, but there are special considerations. Because he can’t see us visually, we make sure that he can hear us. We don’t rattle gate chains or the like, as we figured out almost from the first day that the sound of metal on metal, conjures up memories of bad experiences. We call to him. We sing to him. We soothe and reassure, to instill trust and confidence. You get the picture, we don’t shut up.
He’s responded to common sense and gentle touches, far more quickly than we had hoped. I suppose being relaxed around him, never being reactionary, helps too. We understand that Jim has reasons, for the way he reacts. That his wariness was learned, and not his doing. People made him fear and distrust. His new people, that’s us, intend on changing his mind about that.
Thankfully, he’s already changed a great deal, since he joined us. With time, we truly believe, he will be as affectionate, as confident in us, as Aurora is. It used to hurt my heart, when he would flinch and catch his breath at a simple touch. It bothered me so much, when he would remain tense and ready to react, when we stroked or brushed his spotty coat. He rarely shies away from a touch now. In fact, he’s more likely to become impatient with us. He’s beginning to display a bit of character and personality, and we love that. Jim is remembering to be a horse.
We’ve always known that whiskers are important to horses. How important, becomes clear, when caring for a blind horse. When he first came to live with us, I would tickle his whiskers with my fingertips, to get him to follow my hand down to his water. Oh, by the way, he no longer needs ‘his’ personal water tub. He now drinks from various, water vessels.
Anyway, we now know how important a horse’s whiskers are, because of Lucky Jim. Of course, we chat as we approach, to let him know where we are. It’s when we’re close enough to touch that we must be extra mindful. If we simply reach out and touch him, he can still be startled. Instead, we reach out and tickle his whiskers. It’s so simple and effective. Jim has a warning that he’s going to be touched, and then he’s fine. Some think whiskers on a horse, are unsightly. I say they’re necessary, and serve a purpose. If the horse isn’t being shown, leave the whiskers be. Just like long, thick manes and tails, they serve a purpose. A horse that’s left natural, is still beautiful.

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About Trudy Andrew

Trudy Andrew lives on a small farm just east of Winnipeg, Manitoba, where she enjoys her Morgan horses. A dreamer since she was a child, its no surprise to those who know her well that her imagination would find an outlet in writing, as it has in the past through artwork.
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 Oakbank, MB