The handsome full-blooded Thoroughbred was born 16 years ago to Canadian racing horse parents. His registered name was Alydeed’s Leader, and his lineage traced to Northern Dancer and a son of Alydeed among other well-known horses. He raced until he was seven years old, starting in 40 races, winning two, and placing second or third in another 15. When the racing owner decided his career as a racehorse was over, the horse later called Norman was sold to a new owner.
At this home, Norman was neglected to the point of abuse for two years and, finally, that person agreed to give him up to a horse shelter. By that time, the gelding was more than 400 pounds under his normal weight.
Sometime after Norman was moved to the shelter, a horse loving woman came into his life. Heather Young from Toronto was struggling through a bumpy personal phase and wished to revive her love of horses. She decided to begin riding lessons and signed up to take English instructions. Needing a helmet, she attended a tack sale at the shelter and watched the horses grazing in a field. One of the horses picked up his head and gazed directly at Young and, leaving the group, walked directly over to her.
Young smiled as she remembered Norman. She said,
It was like one of those stupid movies and he didn’t stop. He just kept walking and literally stopped right in front of me, and put his head down. And that was it.
Apparently, both Norman and Young experienced love at first sight. Young adopted the horse and gave him the name Norman, based on the movie City Slickers with Billy Crystal. Norman recovered in health and spirit, and became a dependable, steady English riding horse on the flat.
It was about that time when Young noticed Norman’s right eye was too watery. He was prescribed drugs for uveitis, a diagnosis that turned out to be incorrect. This misdiagnosis brought on an abscess that eroded Norman’s cornea, eventually costing the horse not only his sight but the whole eye. Young simply could not put Norman down and made the decision for life. After all, Norman never stopped eating and he remained gentle with adults, children and dogs even throughout pain of the ordeal. Young said, “He was the same horse. … And if we had to relearn everything, I was willing to give him the time to do it.”
Young worked with Norman and even though the gelding had some bumps and bruises here and there, he made appropriate adjustments and regained his balance. Together they moved to Ottawa in 2013 and Norman began his schooling to master jumping fundamentals with horse trainer
Vanessa Honey of VH Equestrian. Norman soon gained confidence and performed exceptionally well in his first sanctioned jumper show, ribboning for second and third.
Norman inspired two books for children – the first book is based on the horse’s experience of losing an eye and becoming different, and the second book is about Norman and a bully. He had his own website, Facebook page and Twitter account.
Sadly, on July 17, Norman the One-Eyed Horse had to be euthanized after he fractured a leg in an unfortunate accident.
Said a grief-stricken Young,
He was my heart and soul. He has made me stronger and helped me believe in myself. He always made me strive for better.
A horse, paired with a kind and understanding human, becomes remarkable.