Tales from Windsor: Blind Appaloosa mare with cataracts set to make Royal Windsor debut

  • Despite being partially blind in both eyes owing to cataracts, Dee Jones’ Appaloosa mare Hot Chocolate (Speshie) lives life to the fullest, and she’s making her Royal Windsor debut in 24 hours. Tanisha Mayo and the 15-year-old will be contesting the Appaloosa ridden class on Sunday afternoon.

    Tanisha has known Speshie since she was a youngster as she was kept on the same yard as her childhood pony:

    “As a four-year-old Speshie was kicked in the field and suffered a stifle injury,” said Tanisha. “She was operated on but as she didn’t like living in, she was turned out in the field to recover. When I was about 14 years old, I was looking for a new horse but funds were limited. The yard owner helpfully suggested I approach Dee to see if I could have Speshie as she was in the field doing nothing. Dee said to take her and that she was all mine.”

    Speshie commenced her ridden career as a seven-year-old:

    “She was a late starter, and due to the old injury, she did take some time to get stronger,” said Tanisha. “She used to canter sideways, but after lots of strengthening work she finally came right. We competed in both showing and dressage, regularly scoring over 70 percent in our tests.”

    In 2016, Tanisha moved Speshie to a new yard:

    “At the time we were on a roll, though I started to notice that she would occasionally bump into the electric fence, and that she’d knock her water bucket over in the stable. She would also get disoriented and I noticed slight clouding in her eyes, too.

    “We called the vet and he discovered she had cataracts. We were heartbroken, but as Appaloosas are susceptible to equine current uveitis, we decided not to operate as she currently wasn’t in any pain.”

    Speshie certainly hasn’t been held back by her diagnosis:

    “She’s been unstoppable,” Tanisha added. “We took her to some breed shows and her results include two championship supremes at the SpotFest championships and the supreme at the breed show held at Hartpury. In 2018, she also achieved a personal best elementary dressage score.

    “Management wise, it’s important to keep her routine as much as possible. She goes out in the field with my two other ponies who look after her so well. If she changes fields I walk her around the perimeter a few times so she can get a feel for where everything is. As she can’t see, she can get stressed in certain situations, but she loves to be out showing. She depends on her hearing and my voice a lot. It’s a full team effort to keep her healthy, but she’s not let anything get in her way, and she’s enjoying life to the fullest.”

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