Thanks for reading our story! My name is Terri. My boy Derrick is a gentle, trusting horse who is so good at adjusting to his surroundings that he got the nickname “Mr. Chill.” He is a Dutch Warmblood gelding and has been a part of my family since 2014 when I imported him from the Netherlands.
I had hoped for Derrick to compete in the hunter division, but when he was seven years old, a cataract developed in his right eye. Derrick needed good vision to be able to jump over obstacles safely and in fine form. I met with Dr. Mary Lassaline, an equine ophthalmology expert at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, to see if she could help. She treated Derrick with implants that provided medicine directly to each eye.
After his first eye surgery, Derrick competed in many events, and he performed admirably despite losing vision in his right eye, including his last show The Verdugo Hills Spring Fling wherein he placed second in the USHJA National Hunter Derby. I will always treasure those experiences I had with him thanks to the wonderful treatment by Dr. Lassaline and the UC Davis team, the dedicated training by Carolyn Biava, Janet McDonald, and Christie Nissenson, and the incredible riding by Laura Ware.
Unfortunately, Derrick’s vision continued to deteriorate in both eyes, and he started to go blind. After consulting with my local veterinarians, I was afraid he would need to be euthanized. I then went to the barn, called to Derrick, and he popped his head out of his stall. He looked right at me and nickered. At that moment, I knew Derrick’s life was not over. He still had a purpose that we would discover together. Dr. Lassaline and the UC Davis team came to our rescue once again by performing cataract surgery and providing care for 40 days. Derrick ultimately lost his vision, but Dr. Lassaline saved his life. Today Derrick is walking and trotting under saddle.
His journey inspired me to write Derrick the Jumping Horse Has Eye Surgery. I hope Derrick’s story and his new life’s purpose will encourage others. I thought Derrick’s purpose was to be a champion hunter. Now I know the truth: Derrick’s purpose was—and still is—to inspire others to discover their true purpose, which oftentimes is not what it initially seems.