Blind Horse Studiowww.ArtPal.com/julsheppard
Wizzer Jimmy Dickens began his life as an adventure. After the mare’s owner was informed that she did not appear to be in foal, it was a surprise when she went into labor. The mistaken vet, named Jim, was called out and the wobbly little colt was named on his behalf “Jimmy Dickens”.
Jimmy was purchased at 18 months by our family and found his forever home. He grew into a massive, beautiful halter horse and we began our show career and training. Jimmy, however, never outgrew his need for oral satisfaction and pranks. He opened the stall doors to free the other horses, attempted to nurse unsuspecting mares that retaliated, tried to nurse a human once, ate the tails off of other horses and picked up objects found around the pasture. One winter day when I arrived home, he was holding the water tank heater and attempting to brand the other horses when they came to get a drink. We have gone through several tank heaters over time. Another day he was holding a very long branch and smacking the other horses with it until he was yelled at to “drop the stick.” Forget putting blankets and fly masks on him or the other horses because it is a personal challenge for him to remove them.
In addition to being naughty, he was also the sweetest, gentle big gelding in the world. He was an awesome lead line horse and would let you lay on him in the pasture. He was willing to do anything and was never spooky. You could trust him with anyone.
This relationship and incredible bond would be strengthened beyond limits one stormy dark night. I was awakened around 1 am by the sounds of a horse yelling outside. It was gently raining and very dark. I grabbed a flashlight and headed out to a front field. There he was, trembling and yelling. As soon as I got up to him, I knew something was terribly wrong. He was bleeding from the nose and his face and eye looked broken. I helped him to the barn and called the veterinarian. He wanted me to stay next to him and hold him. Upon exploration and the vet analysis, JImmy and the other horses were chased by coyotes through the fence and across a pasture between a wooded area. The farm was somewhat new to them, so they would not have explored these areas. Jimmy had run into a huge oak tree at a gallop. This impact broke all of his sinus cavities on the right side of his face and shoved his eye back into his head. He had an incredible migraine and would take a year of healing to mend his face. His eye would stay sunken in his face. It was a miracle that he survived. His show days were finished.
Years passed and at twelve years of age, while trying to go for a trail ride, he was taking tentative steps like he was feeling the ground. I dismounted and took him back to the barn. His pupils were fixed and dilated in both eyes. Apparently he suffered an ocular stroke due to the prior neurological damage and was now blind. His eyes have suffered further degradation over his older years, but he still seems to have some shadow abilities. His sense of smell and hearing is intense! He walks like a bloodhound and can hear the crackle of the grain bag from a mile away. He still continues his naughty behaviors for his amusement and loves to be loved on.
During the pandemic quarantine, his best friend became colicky and was in trauma late at night. Jimmy crawled under the fence and came up to the house to yell for help. I ran outside and realized what had happened. As I cared for his friend, who sadly lost his battle, Jimmy quietly waited at the barn door and supported him. I put him back in the pasture and thanked him for being such a wonderful friend. He was unable to cope and didn’t eat for a few days, but time and painting lessons have helped him heal. Jimmy is now a feisty, painting 23 years old.