Kelli Granger of Penticton holds on to her horse Whiskey, who is blind. Although the horse can't see, Granger rides her four times per week in Okanagan Falls.
It just happens that her horse, Whiskey, is blind.
"It's the best bond I've ever had with an animal in my life," said Granger, who lives in Penticton. "In some ways, I'd say she's better than a horse that can see because a horse with eyesight sees what it wants to see, but Whiskey is so trusting, she does what I want her to do."
Granger rides Whiskey an average of four times per week. She says the mare is capable of doing just about everything except jumping. There are a few safety precautions, such as avoiding cattle guards.
Granger, 22, has been riding since she was eight. Growing up in 100 Mile House, she began saving when she was 12 and bought her first horse at 13.
Well into her mid-teens, Granger bought Whiskey, who was three at the time and could see just fine. Two years later, she and her father discovered the horse was going blind.
She explored all options, including putting the horse down or letting it live its life out in a field. Instead, and against what many had suggested, she decided to work with Whiskey.
It's been a wonderful experience.
Many who see them together are astonished to learn Whiskey is blind.
Leo den Boer, owner of Woodgate Farm and Performance Horses in Okanagan Falls, where Whiskey is boarded, said he's never seen anything like it in his 40 years in the horse business.
"Every time I see Kelly riding her horse, it's a new experience," den Boer said. "Kelly has done a remarkable job with her. I can't believe the trust Whiskey has in her. Kelly proves that just because an animal is blind that you don't need to put them down."
Granger wonders if anyone else is in the same situation and says she would gladly volunteer her time to offer tips or even train the animal.
She's also debating entering Whiskey in the barrels competition at a local rodeo - not to win, but to prove that anything is possible. Other than being blind, Whiskey is perfectly healthy.
Juggling four part-time jobs in Penticton, Granger finds riding to be a wonderful way to relieve stress. Her ultimate goal is to be accepted into a carpenter apprentice
"Riding is always relaxing whether it's for 45 minutes or for a few hours," she said.
"Whiskey is always excited when I come. She can hear my vehicle pull in."