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was losing vision that Fric struggled while jumping to figure out distances. It was tough for him to determine exactly where to take off from, which was quite scary,” she remembers. “Luckily Fric is incredibly honest, so we decided to give him a chance. Time would tell if he could make the adjustment.” “Once he lost vision in his right eye completely, however,

it was as if he still had two eyes,” she continues. “Now I make small adjustments to help him, but for the most part Fric does a remarkable job and still loves to jump. For example, off of right turns, I may choose to turn him straight a bit earlier than I otherwise would, but for the most part I ride Fric just like I would any horse with two eyes.” “The biggest difference is that if we come

into a tight combination off a right hand turn, other horses may be able to see it five strides out where Fric may only have one stride of being straight enough to see what we are going to jump,” she explains. “But I know that if I can get him where he needs to be, even one stride out, he will do his best to get the job done.”

A DAUNTING DECISION Although Fric handled losing the sight in his right eye

remarkably well, Frankie began debating whether or not to remove the now useless eyeball. “I had been toying with the idea of removing Fric’s eye for quite some time,” she admits. “The thing about horses is that you are never sure how much pain they may be in. The cornea had pulled away from the eye and there was a tremendous amount of scar tissue. When you looked at him, it was very clear there was something wrong with the eye.” “With the help of Dr. Rebecca Burwell, Fric’s ophthal-

mologist, we’d been able to keep him, from a clinical standpoint, quite comfortable. But even though it

Below: The pair at Galways Downs last November. Photo by Josh Walker/USEA Bottom and at Right: Fric and Frankie in March 2011 at Twin Rivers after his eye was removed. Photos by Sherry Stewart

appeared he was comfortable, we couldn’t be 100% sure since, as with any injury a horse has, you can never tell for certain what the pain level is.” Frankie discussed the situation at length with Dr. Burwell and finally came to a decision. “We decided that there was no real downside to taking the eye and that the slight risk was worth taking,” she says. “Fric is incredibly tough and his eye was essentially dead. It was a very difficult decision but we decided it needed to happen.” “When a horse’s eye is removed, there

are three options: to take the eye out and sew it shut, to put a prosthetic eye in, or to put a silicone implant in the socket before closing it up so that the eye maintains its shape,” she explains. “The best thing for the horse, if you do not mind how it will look, is

to simply take the eye out and sew it shut, which has the least chance of infection or rejection. So that’s what we chose for Fric.” Undoubtedly Frankie was very concerned about the

surgery and was thrilled when Fric came through the procedure well. After a month long recovery period, Fric was back to work ready to continue his rise through the upper levels of eventing. “Despite what people might think about Fric running the upper levels with one eye, the truth is he has had no vision in that eye for a very long time,” she says. “He deserves for us to stand behind his talent no matter what he looks like aesthetically.”

ONWARD AND UPWARD Fric returned to eventing in March and before long, he was

back to his winning ways. After several years of success at

16 May/June 2011

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