I think Dodger is deaf now…

You’ve heard me mention how concerned I am for Norma (25) and Dodger (estimated early 30s) this winter… Both have aged considerably since the move..

AS an aside, anyone who says emotions don’t play a part in equine health has never watched a pony and a donkey lose their best friend, move, and then suffer pneumonia.

I’m just saying, Norma and Dodger have aged tremendously in the last year – and I am sure emotions triggered by consequence started the onslaught of aging.

Handsome, ladies man, Dodger. I purchased him at a meat market 22 years ago. He was dumped from a pony riding string. Dodger had no papers and no one knew his age. His teeth have odd grooves so no vet could give an accurate age.  It felt like he was in his teens when I got him…


So, I’m taking extra special care of them.  I’m hoping that easing the stress of life will turn back the clock a bit.

They both now wear flymasks (I prefer the lighter, black mesh) when the sun is out and also when the moon is full.  They both have daily supplement laden buckets at noon and their shelter will be the first to have winterizing.  Norma and Dodger have shavings in their shelter, which is cleaned all the time, fresh water, fresh hay and constant monitoring – because I can see them from just about everywhere in the house.

Dodger, always the ladies man, wooing Annie.


Still, I noticed that Dodger was a bit off…

You see, he has always been a ladies man and a little too studly for his own good.  Last year, when he lived with Annie, I thought it was a good match because she kept him in line…  But then I noticed that he wasn’t getting out of her way – when he needed to.

So I separated them.

And then I noticed that he didn’t want to go into the large field anymore… Hmmmm.  I decided that it was just too hot down there for him this summer.

The next clue.. Dodger has always stood off to the side when anticipating food.  He’d turn his back and walk off to wait… But lately, he was not back turning around as soon as I arrived… I’d call his name, yet he wouldn’t move.

Hmmmmm.  I thought he was losing his appetite or maybe just moving more slowly?…

Dodger used to LOVE walking the big field. This photo was taken in June… he hasn’t gone into the big field since.


Last week, as I was making repairs on their quarters, I startled Dodger.  He practically jumped out of his skin.

–All I did was walk up around his behind while walking across the paddock.

It was then that I knew.  “He didn’t hear me.”

He didn’t hear me come over, he didn’t hear me climb through the fence and he didn’t hear me walking behind  him.

Uh oh.

His best friend, Norma Jean, has super duper hearing…


I felt so sad for him – and for me.  I didn’t want to admit that our days together will be numbered.  I didn’t want to admit that Dodger is showing his age.  I didn’t want to admit that I may lose him.

But, I have to – in order to take better care.

And besides, he has a best buddy who has ears 5x as big as Dodger’s and can hear EVERYTHING.  He lives with mega watt, high powered, sonic-eared Norma!

Norma and I will take care of him.

I just need to adjust.

He is still a gracious gentleman… and I adore him.  But he has aged remendously in the last year.


So, I’m guessing that he is a little upset about not being able to hear well – which is why he isn’t going into the big field.  He feels insecure in the wide open spaces.

Of course, I don’t want him to be nervous as all, so I am now alerting him to my approach by making vibration my new calling card.  I step hard on my approach, I rattle the fence boards, I twang the buckets and I clap as I approach – although I don’t think he hears clapping – but the others do and they all look – do he looks, too.

In a way, I think hearing less as one gets older, is a sort of peace.  I notice it in my mother.  She doesn’t hear well, but doesn’t really care.  She hears well enough, and all that insignificant drivel that she misses, probably isn’t worth hearing anyway… although it drives us crazy, she is fine. Nothing rattles her.

Like they say about all deaf trail horses – they don’t spook.

But, knowing this about my little man has touched my heart.  I’ve always loved how Dodger protected everyone in his paddock.  I’ve always loved how gentle he was with me, how he came in for kisses and gently blew into my face.  He is a true gentleman and I adore him.

So, deafness, here we come!

Since they both lost their dear friend, Slick, these two are inseparable.


I looked around on the internet to find articles on deaf horses… pretty much all of them said that testing for deafness is difficult to gauge accurately.

…Well, all you have to do is know a horse and watch.  Pretty soon, you’ll figure out if he hears well.

After that, most pages said to put a deaf horse in with a hearing buddy – and get on with it.

So, that’s what we are doing.  Except I’m watching myself a bit more while around him.

There is a FB group called THE DEAF HORSE ASSOCIATION.



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Only one comment so far...

  1. Judith Graves

    We’ve never had a deaf horse; but we do have a blind horse. He, and we, have learned how to make the most of our lives – he’s been blind for 20 years and is 29 years old. Dodger has had his best, loving years, since you came into his life. Good for you!

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