The owner of a horse who nearly died as a result of uveitis wants to raise awareness of the “debilitating” condition.

Kerrie Conder’s 17hh gelding Chance was diagnosed with the inflammation of the blood vessels and vascular tissues in the eye last July.

“His eye flared up and we initially thought it was the flies, but the vet discovered it was uveitis,” Newcastle-based Kerrie told H&H.

“It swelled up really quickly and closed — it was really severe.

“Chris Dixon, a specialist at Vetrinary Vision, discovered he had cataracts as well. It opened up a huge can of worms and felt like a life sentence.”

Chance’s symptoms subsided, but his eye flared up again in October.

Once again it stabilised, but in April the condition worsened and the decision was made to operate.

His cataracts were treated and an implant inserted into his eye to save his vision.

“It was absolutely terrifying,” said Kerrie. “We all travelled up for the operation in case we had to make the call for him to go.

“Luckily he was ok but he then got an ulcer that kept getting bigger and because of that he couldn’t receive the treatment he needed.

“I didn’t know how much more I would let him go through – he had already been on box rest for seven weeks.

“We decided if he didn’t start to pull through we would have to let him go.”

Intensive care

Chance was put back into intensive care for another 10 days where he had drops put into his eye every two hours.

“I didn’t pick him up until the ulcer was gone, as I wanted to make sure he would get through this,” said Kerrie.

“Since then he has gone from strength to strength.

“He’s now back in work and still has sight in both his eyes, but will never have 20/20 vision.

“We’re now taking each day as it comes.”

Chance wears a special mask made by Equivizor to protect his eyes, which is only taken off to put in his eye drops.

He is ridden by Kerrie’s instructor Leanne Coxon and the pair hope to complete a BE80 by the end of the season as part of the Wobbleberry challenge, which is raising funds for the Willberry Wonder Pony charity.

Kerrie hopes that if all goes well Leanne and Chance will be able to ride round a BE100 next season.

“We want to do as much as we can with him while we can,” she said.

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Raising awareness

Kerrie now wants to raise awareness of uveitis to help other owners diagnose and treat their horses as quickly as possible.

“There’s not enough knowledge about this debilitating condition,” she said.

“I had never heard of it and I’ve had horses all my life.

“His mask will attract a lot of attention at shows, but may be that’s not a bad thing if it raises awareness of the condition.”

Kerrie thanked all those that have helped her get Chance to the point he is at today.

“It’s a fierce disease so without a strong support network I don’t know how we would have coped,” she added.