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APHA

Love is Blind

Tahoe Lii’s loss of sight helped owner Christina Aldridge see his true potential.

By Jillian Sinclair

When Christina Aldridge of Snow Camp, North Carolina, went to look at a potential pasture mate on behalf of a friend, she never imagined it would be the start of an incredible journey. Across the field, she spied Tahoe Lii, a 2006 bay overo gelding by Jedi Stripe and out of CodysBlack Bandit, and the spark of an immediate connection coursed through her veins. While she didn’t expect to come home with a horse for herself, she couldn’t resist—“Tahoe” became part of the family.

“His owner was unable to ride any longer due to health issues, and he begged me to take Tahoe. I didn’t need another horse, but there was just something about him that I couldn’t resist,” Christina said.

But soon after arriving home, Christina noticed a golden hue shimmering across the gelding’s right eye. Her vet diagnosed Tahoe with equine recurrent uveitis—also known as moon blindness, this condition is characterized by repeated episodes of inflammation of the uveal tract of the eye. Cumulative episodes of inflammation cause damage to the eye, which can lead to cataracts, glaucoma and, eventually, blindness.

Unclear Beginnings

Unable to pinpoint the cause of Tahoe’s inflammation, it soon became clear that he would eventually lose sight in his right eye. In preparation, Christina began teaching Tahoe voice commands and cues to help with the transition. Two years later, Tahoe was completely blind in his right eye.

“While his vision was fine in his left eye, he often tried to compensate,” Christina said.

This made riding difficult—Tahoe would often move sideways or dog track when striding forward, or focus on the things he could see out of his left eye instead of Christina’s cuesbut it was a challenge Christina knew they could overcome. With time, they adjusted and gained confidence, and they eventually resumed hitting trails along the East Coast.

“Tahoe was proving that being partially sighted was no big deal, and I was beginning to see just a sliver of just how much heart this horse truly had,” she said.

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This is an excerpt from the full article—get the whole story in the Spring 2021 Chrome magazine, which is sent to all current APHA members. Not a member? Join or renew at apha.com/join.

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