Blindness Won't Stop These Twins From Showing Their Goats at the Rodeo

Faith and Caleb Snapp and their parents haven't let anything stop them.

It was easy to forget the kids were blind. Angie and Brent raised them so that they could try almost anything. Faith wanted to learn to ride horses and started showing her horse, Pilot, in riding competitions. Angie would watch her in the field and call out to let her know when her horse was heading for a jump as she practiced. When she competed, Faith listened to the clopping hooves of the other riders to figure out where she was on the course. Caleb fell in love with music, but he has never learned to read Braille so he couldn't learn to read music. For the first few piano classes, Angie thought that would be a problem, but then he started picking out tunes on the piano by ear. Now he can play almost anything he hears.

Caleb walks out in the early mornings, long before it's light out, to check on his goats. Faith follows the light footsteps of the family border collie to find her way to the barn to feed and work with her goats in the evening. They move around by counting steps and listening and using what little sight they have. Both of them fall down a lot, but they've never broken any bones and they're good at getting back up. Parking lots are dangerous because it's not obvious the twins are blind and because there are so many cars moving that there's no way to keep track of them all. The twins, especially Caleb, love to explore, but they have a habit of getting lost. "If they were trying to find us in a crowd, they'd never be able to do it," Angie said. Brent wears a giant Stetson, either white or black, so the twins have a better chance of finding him when they're at livestock shows. At home, the family rarely thinks about the twins being blind, and their inability to see means they approach the world from an unusual angle.

They hear everything; you can't say a word about either of them in the house without them catching it. "I was seven, and I heard my mom talking about me, and I was in the next room. I yelled, 'I'm right here and I can hear you!'" Faith said.

Faith Snapp couldn't see where the judge was standing in the ring, but she looked where her spotter, Lindsey Cobb, 17, told her to, so it appeared Faith was staring down the judge.
photo by Josh Huskin
Faith Snapp couldn't see where the judge was standing in the ring, but she looked where her spotter, Lindsey Cobb, 17, told her to, so it appeared Faith was staring down the judge.
Brent Snapp encourages the twins, Faith and Caleb Snapp, both legally blind, to be as independent as possible, but he rushed out of the stands to hug his daughter after she parted with her goat at the end of a recent show in San Antonio.
photo by Josh Huskin
Brent Snapp encourages the twins, Faith and Caleb Snapp, both legally blind, to be as independent as possible, but he rushed out of the stands to hug his daughter after she parted with her goat at the end of a recent show in San Antonio.

Caleb laughed. "Yeah, they can't talk about us if we're in the house at all," he said. The lack of sight has made the entire family listen to the world more closely. The twins recognize people by footfalls, and if Brent pulls over on one of their drives across Texas to point out a deer, the twins won't see it, but they hear things in the silence that Brent never thought of, he said. "You grow this way. I'm not going to say it's a good thing, but you grow, and there's a different way of seeing the world," he said.

The future most likely will never include an increase in sight for Faith and Caleb, but the Snapp family stays focused on what they can do. Faith is thinking of becoming a veterinarian or a psychologist. Being a vet might be tricky, she says, because she'd have to do surgeries by feel. She's also drawn to psychology because she hopes to help other people with disabilities learn to cope with them. "I had a friend at camp who found out she was going to lose all her sight. We talked about it, and then she felt better. I want to help people like that," Faith said.

Caleb wants to become an inventor. "I'm going to invent something that will help people who can't see," he says. "That will be good." They've come so far that their parents think anything is possible. Still, there are things they will never be able to do, like play baseball or drive a car.

But they can show goats, and on March 14, they'll be in Houston doing that again this year.

dianna.wray@houstonpress.com

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