One-eyed horse survives tumour to take championship hunter trial title

  • A horse who faced being put down after a tumour was found in his eye has a won championship title after the affected eye was removed.

    Kate O’Shea from Cork and her 16.2hh part-bred Connemara Send Me On (Hudson) won the advanced intermediate championship at the national hunter trials championships at Annaharvey Farm in Co. Offaly, Republic of Ireland on 31 March.

    Kate beat 30 other riders to take the title, with three seconds separating the top three combinations.

    “Cross-country is his favourite,” Kate told H&H. “We mostly event during the summer but our season hasn’t started yet so we’ve been doing hunter trials.”

    Kate, who has owned Hudson for five years, said his eye became cloudy at the beginning of 2016.

    “We got the vet who originally thought he’d been pricked by a thorn or something out hunting so he diagnosed an infection of the cornea and we were treating that for two weeks,” she said.

    “The vet came back again and gave us strong drops to try but when he didn’t improve he wanted a second opinion.”

    Hudson was seen by a specialist who diagnosed a melanoma tumour in his left eye.

    “They ultrasounded his eye and found a tumour growing rapidly against his cornea and said his eye would have to be removed.

    “We were obviously very upset and had to decide what to do. People had different opinions about whether we should go ahead with surgery and take his eye out, or put him to sleep.

    “My family are very into horses and my aunt used to work in a racing yard and knew two horses with one eye – one didn’t cope. He became very nervous and anxious and lost weight rapidly, it just stressed him out so much. No one wanted to put Hudson down but we had to consider what was best for him and whether he would cope with one eye.”

    Kate went ahead with the surgery on 23 January 2016.

    “Hudson is a kind horse and our vet said he had the right temperament and there shouldn’t be problems in him having one eye. He knew plenty of horses who were very successful with one missing, so we went ahead with the operation and hoped for the best.

    “We collected him from the vets two days later and he travelled home perfectly.”

    Kate said Hudson adapted well to having one eye and soon returned to hunting.

    “He was on box rest for two weeks and had his stitches out on 5 February. I got on him the following day and walked around the arena – my mum was more nervous than me, I just couldn’t wait to get back on and he was absolutely perfect,” she said.

    “We went out hunting a week later and he was leading the other horses over ditches.”

    Kate said she does not mind what Hudson looks like and that people do not notice he only has one eye.

    “I had seen horses with one eye like Adventure De Kannan the Hickstead derby winner, and there’s an event horse in Ireland called Wysteria Lane, so you see them out competing. The vet did a really good job, a lot of people don’t even notice until you point it out to them.

    “His behaviour is exceptional. He’ll be eager pulling me round cross-country, but then my mum can also get on him and he’ll walk up the road slowly for her – he’s so safe. He’s just brilliant.”

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