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One-eyed horse still jumping aged 22: rider hopes his story will help others

The teenage rider of a 22-year-old pony who is still enjoying his work having lost an eye wants others to know there is still hope of fulfilling, happy lives for one-eyed horses.

Jessica Venter’s loan pony Peter had surgery to remove his left eye, and although she was concerned, especially at his age, she said he is doing well.

“He was sceptical at first; he’d try to put his head to that side, and I don’t think he understood why he couldn’t see,” she said. “But he trusts me, because I can see for him.”

Jessica first saw Peter, a 14.2hh chestnut, about five years ago, when his owner was looking for someone to loan him. Initially, his owner thought Peter would not be as suitable as Jessica’s other pony, as he was spookier and more excitable, but the pair clicked.

They competed in dressage, cross-country and showjumping, their favourite being jumping, including qualifying for the Sunshine Tour championship at Hickstead.

Then Jessica’s parents bought her a horse, Star, and Peter was loaned to a new home in Wales.

“It wasn’t nice but I understood the owner’s decision,” she said. “Then we had the news he’d had an infection, and had to have his eye removed.

“The owner, and the rider in Wales, decided it would be best for him to come back here; it was nice he was back.”

Jessica researched one-eyed horses and took Peter’s return to work very slowly, but he has coped very well, she said, and still very much enjoys his work.

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“I’ve competed him in showjumping, and in dressage, where he surprisingly did better than he did before his eye was removed,” she said, adding that Peter is still jumping at the same height as before.

Jessica added that she wants other riders to know losing an eye is not the end.

“Although there is the disability, and it depends on the horse, it doesn’t mean their ridden career is over for ever,” she said. “I’d like this to give other people hope.”

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