"A Place of Rescue" and "A Journey to Peace."

Scatter Joy Acres

Scatter Joy Acres  is a 26-acre urban Rescue/Animal Therapy ranch in Omaha, NE. 
 We take in abused, neglected and abandoned animals. Those we that don?t find loving forever home are trained 
to become therapists in our Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) program. 

Our certified AAT program provides help for those in greatest need in our community:
 at-risk children, the developmentally disabled, seniors, homeless, the mentally ill, veterans, and those re-entering society.

Blog

Quality of Life through the Eyes of a Blind Horse

Posted by Scatter Joy Acres on September 30, 2015 at 12:30 AM

This blog is dedicated to Jack at Scatter Joy Acres. Jack has shown us that a blind horse can enjoy life just like a sighted horse. And he has shown people who have come to the ranch that life is too short to let disabilities/life challenge’s, stop you from having good quality of life.

However, going blind can be a frightening experience for both the horse and the owner. Your horse may be upset and scared (and who wouldn't be?) by the encroaching darkness. They'll say your horse can't have a good quality of life if it's blind. Well, we're here to tell you differently. Blind horses can have a wonderful quality of life. And Jack is here to show us that. Three weeks ago Jack was brought to the ranch from a rescue group, for him to live out the rest of his life in sanctuary. He was scared and unsure of his travel and as he came jumping off the trailer he melted the hearts of us at the ranch.

Jack is a 20 year old appaloosa gelding who became blind due to an eye illness. Because of his blindness he spent most of his time in a stall in the barn, his owner thinking that he could not be in a pasture. His tail had lots of hair missing due to rubbing his backend against the stall wall. I took Jack and placed him in our stall barn, until I could get the other horses settled and then off I went to get Jack introduced him to the ranch.

Jack and I left the stall barn heading to the pasture where I keep the mini horses knowing he would be safe and secure in this paddock and pasture area. Jack and I walked the perimeter of the fence line, found the hay and water and then met the rest of the herd. Horses are herd animals with a social hierarchy and a well-defined pecking order. Usually the blind horse falls to the bottom of the pecking order. The others sense the blind horse’s vulnerability and take advantage of it. A blind horse will get beaten up, chased away from food, and run off from the group. It is not a pleasant life. Blind horses can get hurt in a herd environment because with their fight-or-flight instinct, blindness leaves them with only one choice: flight. And fleeing from a bully in the herd in a blind panic (literally) is when a blind horse will run into a fence or a tree and get hurt. Just as people do.

A blind horse, should find a compatible pasture buddy to hang out with. Horses need company, and a lonely horse is an unhappy horse. So Jack was out to find, his sighted pasture buddy (we call them our “seeing eye horse”), and he did, Lucky and Jack have become buddies. Lucky would see to it that Jack found his way to the feed bunk, water and back out safely to the pasture for more grazing. A lot depends on the individual personalities of the horses and the ‘social chemistry’ when they’re together.

This past weekend we increased the pasture area for the mini horse paddock where Jack is at and cut out a gate area in the pasture fence. Jack is so amazing at the way he trusts my voice and follows the direction of my calling to take him to new places. I see this as well not only in my own life growing up and trusting the cows at the farm where I grew up, but I see it every day in the people who come to Scatter Joy Acres.

We all have been mistreated, mistrusted and just really don’t want to give that next person the chance to show us any different. So it is easier to just give up and just live life being lonely, holding hatred in for something that is not even effecting the person who you are holding it against any way they have moved on. It is our nature to defend ourselves because of our pain, so we choose to bully those around that are kind of like Jack in the his pasture, there is always a dominate horse in the pasture and was Jack going to allow this horse (his name is Beaver) to take advantage of him and push him around just because he had a disability. Do you allow others to take advantage of your weakness or are you the type that wants to fight? This past summer we had boys who were fighting at the Public Library and the police were ready to take them away but allowed us to take them with us and bring them to the ranch and experience what happens when we take time to sit down and find out what is the deep root of why they wanted to fight each other.

How do we do this you ask? Our animals are the answer, with some guidance from staff, asking questions and showing the boys how the animals love them no matter what they have done, we show the boys how to love themselves by interacting with the animals we have at the ranch. When we left to take them home a couple hours later, the boys were hugging each other and apologizing for fighting. And still today both boys are doing well and one of the boys now has joined a program that Scatter Joy Acres partners with in the community as part of a after school program. The list goes on with the people, and animals who have come to the ranch and made changes in their lives.

I was asked to list the five most important things I’ve learned in caring for rescued animal and people for the past 10 years. After writing up what I call my “Insights," I realized that if we were going to make a formula for “success," it would be: Personality + Time + Environment = Success. If we take into account people/animals different personality, and invest the time into them, by using the peaceful ranch environment. We all will have a good quality of life, which is SUCCESS.

 

Categories: Scatter Joy Acres

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2 Comments

Reply Whitney Lowe
11:13 PM on December 13, 2015 
Hi Joy,
I just got your name from Lin Beaune today when I inquired about sending Jack a Christmas card. Apparently she had emailed me this summer and the email must have gone to my junk folder as I never received it.
My mom and I are the ones who raised Jack. His mother was my first pony and she lived to be almost 37 years old. We started him and then sold him as a 3 year old. His new owner continued his training under saddle and he also was broke to drive. He was even ridden sidesaddle. We bought Jack back when he was around 13 and owned him up until the time we took him to Lin as a sanctuary horse. As you probably know, she was hoping to use him in the program she intended to start. The reason he was taken there was because we were moving to a place where he would not be able to be safely separated from the rest of the herd in his own pasture. Previously, at the farm we were renting, he had his own private pasture with a small barn where he could come and go as he pleased. He had his very own "seeing eye donkey" who was his best friend and was like his security blanket. The place we were moving to was totally different and although it is fine for our sighted horses, it is not set up appropriately or safely for a blind horse.
Jack's wellbeing has always been our priority. He is very special to me and I still miss him terribly. We spent thousands of dollars on vet bills when treating his eyes and at one point he was getting something in them 21 times per day due to glaucoma and a fungal stromal abscess caused by his diseased cornea.
Reply Whitney Lowe
11:15 PM on December 13, 2015 
Hi Joy,
I just got your name from Lin Beaune today when I inquired about sending Jack a Christmas card. Apparently she had emailed me this summer and the email must have gone to my junk folder as I never received it.
My mom and I are the ones who raised Jack. His mother was my first pony and she lived to be almost 37 years old. He is actually a POA (Pony of the Americas) and his registered name is Flashy Jumping Jack. I was little when I named him; it was supposed to be Jumping Jack Flash but that was taken. We started him and then sold him as a 3 year old. His new owner continued his training under saddle and he also was broke to drive. He was even ridden sidesaddle. We bought Jack back when he was around 13 and owned him up until about a year and a half ago when we took him to Lin to be a sanctuary horse. As you probably know, she was hoping to use him in the program she intended to start. The reason he was taken there was because we were moving to a place where he would not be able to be safely separated from the rest of the herd in his own pasture and we did not want him to have to live in a stall. Previously, at the farm we were renting, he had his own private pasture with a small barn where he could come and go as he pleased. He had his very own "seeing eye donkey" who was his best friend and was like his security blanket. The place we were moving to was totally different and although it is fine for our sighted horses, it is not set up appropriately or safely for a blind horse.
Jack's wellbeing has always been our priority. He is very special to me and I still miss him terribly. We spent thousands of dollars (that we really didn't have) on vet bills when treating his eyes and at one point he was getting something in them 21 times per day due to glaucoma and a fungal stromal abscess caused by his diseased cornea. I work full time and was only getting a few hours of sleep per night because I spent almost all of my time in the barn, taking cat naps in between administering medications. The only time he was kept in a stall was when he had to be kept in during daylight hours because of the irritation to his eyes. Even then, he was turned out at night. That is funny that he has lost much of his tail - I guess he looks like a typical Appy! 😉 It should grow back beautifully though. He always had a nice mane and tail when he was here.
We are thrilled to hear that he is doing well and that he is able to be a part of helping others! He is a very special horse. I was able to continue to ride him, even after he went completely blind. He actually struggled much more when he could only see shadows because everything looked like a hole and he was pretty spooky because of it. He was always willing and trusting though. I just wanted to let you know a little more about Jack's story and to say thank you for helping him live up to his full potential by giving him a job again. Please give him some extra hugs from my mom and me. We still miss him and think about him often.