SpectraVET Performance of the Week: Blind Cutting Horse Uses Echolocation to Sort Cattle

They say a good cutting horse can work a cow with its eyes closed — which is basically true for Quick To Dual, the world’s only successful blind cutting horse.


One courageous mare is defying the odds in the discipline of cutting, which relies on a horse’s innate cow sense and ability to pick up visual cues to stop a cow from returning to the herd. We’ve all seen cutters perform before, and initially Quick To Dual’s performance looks like many others — but this mare is completely blind, elevating her performance from impressive to magical.

Initially, when breeding farm staff discovered that baby Quick To Dual was blind, she wasn’t expected to ever be ridden, let alone compete. But when the staff observed her “cutting” on the other foals in the pasture, hope was reborn. At first, training staff assumed that her amazing ability to cut was due to an overabundance of natural cow sense, literally allowing the mare to “sense” the presence of cattle around her. No one really asked too many questions; they simply went to work prepping Quick To Dual for the major futurities. When the veterinary team at Colorado State University heard about the mare, however, they offered to run some tests for free to discover how Quick To Dual was performing–and what they discovered was stranger than anyone ever imagined.

Quick To Dual actually operates on echolocation, much like a bat in the night sky or a dolphin in the sea. She emits a “ping” too high for the unaided human ear to hear, and then uses the bounce-back of that “ping” to determine where the cow is located. The Colorado veterinary team believes that Quick To Dual’s echolocation is far beyond the level of sophistication of mere bats and dolphins, and can actually allow the mare to determine the angle of the cow and predict what it will do next.

While Quick To Dual’s owners are hoping for a long breeding career when she’s done showing, Colorado State hopes to study the mare further and learn more about “equi-location,” as they’ve started calling the mare’s unusual ability.

Go Quick To Dual! Go Riding! (And… Happy April Fool’s!)

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