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Freshman Lillian “Lily” Hannah, a member of Pinkerton Academy's Equestrian Club, rides her blind horse Pet on Hampton Beach. (COURTESY)

Blind horse opening eyes for Pinkerton Academy equestrian club

DERRY — Pet, a blind horse, is leading members of the Pinkerton Academy Equestrian Club this year on a path of discovery.

She will be ridden by her owner of five years, Pinkerton freshman Lillian "Lily" Hannah. Suzanne Pedneault, the club's adviser, said Pet has been blind since she was 5 years old because of a degenerative condition. The horse is now about 22.

"You have to be more confident in what you do and how you ride her — she's depending on you," Lily Hannah said. "And you have to be her eyes and guide her."

Pet responds to such commands as "step up," Lily's mother, Liz Hannah, said. Give that direction, and she will step over a log or other obstacle.

"You really wouldn't know if you saw her moving and trotting and so forth," Liz Hannah said. "It's absolutely phenomenal to see her move."

The Equestrian Club will be participating this year in the New Hampshire High School Equestrian Teams' competitions.

"Pet's participation will be a first for both Pinkerton and the NHHSET," Pedneault said.

Lily is getting Pet ready to compete in the shows that will be held starting on March 29 at Brookvale Pines Farm, 154 Martin Road, in Fremont, Pedneault said.

Pet gets plenty of exercise and is ridden on a regular basis.

She is capable of riding on trails and has even been taken to the beach, Liz Hannah said.

Guiding Pet along a trail requires some changes in how directions are given, she said.

The rider also needs to be more aware of the surroundings and potential obstacles.

"Pet is fully functional, but you do need to be conscious of what the ground looks like," she said.

If there is an obstacle ahead in the trail, the rider needs to be her eyes.

"She's very responsive to your leg, but you do need to tell her 'There's a log on the trail,' and 'We are coming up on a log.'" Liz Hannah said.