Vision is a human’s best sense for anticipation (the same is true for a horse). For this Olympian, he and his horse need to know when to jump and how high to jump. A feat not likely to be as successful with their eyes closed.
It was extremely important for William Fox-Pitt to retrain his visual system to process information appropriately in order to regain his Olympic type performance. Since the visual areas of his brain were disrupted from a traumatic injury he lost the full use of his visual skills, and thus anticipation skills. This resulted in the following quote from Mr. Fox-Pitt “I could ride on the flat, but jumping was tricky when one fence became four and you didn’t really know which one you were jumping until the last minute.”
Luckily for Mr. Fox-Pitt the brain retains neuroplasticity into adulthood and can be retrained. He successfully rehabilitated his visual brain and helped him get back to operating at his full potential. Read about his recovery process and success here.