Blind horse unit makes history at local parade

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SPRING VALLEY, Wis. (WEAU) - It was a sight to see in Spring Valley. Sunday the small town held its annual "Dam Day" parade and celebration but one of the units in the parade was turning heads and making history in the process.

“It’s our goal to be the only fully blind parade unit and its our goal to be sitting in Pasadena California one of these new year’s days with our parade unit,” Refuge Farms executive director Sandy Gilbert said.

For Gilbert and the other volunteers at Refuge Farms, Sunday was their chance to show people that blind horses still have a purpose.

“We wanted to show off the fact that just because the horses are blind doesn't mean they are disposable,” volunteer Dan McCargar said.

The riders and horses had a little help in their first parade appearance on Sunday. Spotters helped make sure the horses stayed calm and a perimeter unit allowed people to see the horses up close without startling them.

“It's a challenge because we have to have eyes all around us,” Gilbert explained, “we have to anticipate what the public is going to do.”

Through research Gilbert and the rest of the Refuge Farm board of directors believe their horse unit might be the first to make an appearance in a parade.

“It’s exciting, we are making history,” Gilbert said.

Riders say while there were several things they couldn’t anticipate before the parade, one of the biggest might have been the connection they would form with the horses.

“When you have something that's blind and they are able to do something that maybe even the sighted horse wouldn't allow you to do its very heart warming,” McCargar said.

“I firmly believe that somewhere along the line there are going to be horses’ lives saved because we are out there riding blind horses and that's what we are trying to do,” Gilbert said.

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