A 31-year-old ʙʟɪɴᴅ Appaloosa gets a second chance at life thanks to an animal sanctuary in New York.
Buddy lost his sight due to a condition known as u.v.e.i.t.is. His owner was about to eᴜᴛʜᴀɴɪᴢᴇᴅ him because she could no longer care for him, but Kathy Stevens, the founder of Catskill Animal Sanctuary (CAS), came to his rescue.
Stevens met Buddy and saw he still “had some good years left”, so she took him home. He will now spend his golden years roaming grassy pastures with other blind horses.
She introduced the gentle giant to her followers and said, “Most people are either unable or unwilling to provide the extra care required when horses lose their vision, and so many are Eᴜᴛʜᴀɴɪᴢᴇᴅ.”
Ironically, he is the fourth ʙʟɪɴᴅ horse to arrive at the sanctuary named Buddy. “We’ve now had FOUR blind horses named Buddy — maybe a remarkable coincidence, but we think it’s a sign that this is the path we are meant to walk, side by side with those horses the world has given up on, leading them into their new lives,” wrote the sanctuary.
CAS has been rescuing senior, blind, and unwanted animals for twenty years. Even though they have experience with ʙʟɪɴᴅ horses, taking one in is no small feat.
“We were contacted by Buddy’s owner, a woman who’d had him for his entire life. She was not in a position to care for him as a blind animal and was going to euthanize him,” Stevens said. “This is an extremely common phenomenon—folks don’t have the knowledge or patience [for these animals], or they don’t want to make the adjustments to make their pasture/barn safer or sometimes, they simply don’t understand that a ʙʟɪɴᴅ animal can live an incredibly full, joyful life. They think ᴇᴜᴛʜᴀɴɪᴢᴇᴅ that is the most humane option.”
Stevens and CAS staff have been working with Buddy for months to teach him verbal cues to help him navigate around his new home.
She explained that her approach to teaching blind horses and animals to get around is no different than teaching a ʙʟɪɴᴅ child. “(Any animal) with or without eyes can learn the language, can learn words,” she said.
“Working with him was truly a matter of applying common sense when answering the question: What additional support do blind animals need in order to feel safe and confident?” Stevens says. “And oh my goodness, he’s incredibly smart! I was blown away by how quickly he ‘learned his words’: up, down, stop, choppy, water, and so on.”
He has complete trust and faith in his human handlers and is even seen trotting in a viral video posted by CAS. “Over 2 and a half MILLION people have heard Buddy’s story and fallen in love. He is learning SO fast, and filling our hearts with so much joy,” posted CAS.
Buddy has made many friends (especially with the pigs) but his best friend is a 35-year-old blind Appaloosa, also named Buddy. The two spend their days grazing together and at night are stalled next to one another.
Buddy will live the rest of his days surrounded by friends in a loving environment. His rescue and long-term care are possible due in part to sponsors. The sanctuary relies on sponsors to help care for all the rescued animals and their special needs.