A Blind Horse with a Seeing-Eye Camel

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Pony X-Press is a
traveling zoo headquartered in the Central Maine town of Winslow.
This time of year, they’re busy bringing reindeer and friends to
various holiday events around the state. But as their name suggests,
many of the zoo’s residents are equine.

One longtime member
of the Pony X-Press menagerie is Dolly, a horse who appears to have
Appaloosa heritage. In recent years, Dolly has made an unlikely
friend at the farm. Caesar is a five-year-old camel, and one of the
stars of the show at the zoo; there aren’t too many camels who call
Maine home. Caesar had trouble fitting in at first.

“We tried putting
alpacas in with him,” zoo owner Ed Papsis told WGME. “That didn’t
work out. He’s too big. We put the horse [Dolly] in, and she just
kind of bonded with him, and he bonded with her.”

The companionable
relationship became important as Dolly’s eyesight deteriorated.

“It worked out
good because as she went blind, she relies on him,” said Papsis.
“She’ll follow him around. If we take him out to bring him
somewhere, she’s always whinnying for him and he’s bellowing back
for her.”

Horses can typically
adapt to blindness as they will learn to rely on hearing and other
senses to make up for the lost eyesight. But having a companion as a
guide—whether that’s another horse or a friend of a different
species—is often helpful. (Click here to watch the touching story
of an aging goat who took care of an elderly, blind horse for years.
) Generally, blind horses do best if they’re kept in a controlled, consistent environment so they can learn their surroundings. With the right care and precautions, some blind horses can even continue to be ridden.

Click here for more
information on caring for a blind horse.


Leslie Potter is a writer and photographer based in Lexington, Kentucky. www.lesliepotterphoto.com

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