“Many have said they have never met a horse like him,”
They ride as one down through the pasture to where the stands are lined up, waiting for people to bear witness.
The rider jumps off and makes a verbal command and taps the horse’s hindquarters, gently. With a swish of his tail, the slightly speckled white horse rears, his front legs straight up in the air like one of those gallant Lipizzaners from Spain.
Another command from his owner, and he is bent down on those same legs, kneeling as if the Queen is standing before him.
To say Endo is a special horse is an understatement. He is not only able to understand and perform more than 30 commands, he is fully attuned to his owner and trainer Morgan Wagner.
She acts as Endo’s eyes since the Appaloosa gelding is completely blind.
Even though he cannot differentiate between light and dark, Endo has acclimatized to many different situations, even competing in equitation events.
“Many have said they have never met a horse like him,” said Wagner, who is currently with Endo in the North Okanagan for a unique reason.
Endo is about to make his theatrical debut.
He has travelled with Wagner from their home in Corvallis, Ore. to Armstrong to be part of Caravan Farm Theatre’s upcoming summer production of The Night’s Mare.
“We were looking for a magical horse, a beautiful horse, so we started to look around and we heard about Endo,” said Courtenay Dobbie, Caravan’s artistic director, who is taking the reigns to direct The Night’s Mare.
Endo may not be a traditionally beautiful horse, but his personality and abilities have impressed all who have met him. That includes The Night Mare’s playwright Kevin Kerr, the Governor General award winning author of Unity: (1918), who was at Caravan recently to observe the first rehearsal with Endo.
“I can’t believe our luck. He’s perfect,” exclaimed Kerr, watching Endo lie down so Wagner could climb onto his back.
Endo was gifted to Wagner by her grandmother 15 years ago before she moved to Oregon from her hometown of San Bernadino, Calif.
Sighted then, it was five years ago when Wagner noticed something was wrong with one of Endo’s eyes.
“It was clouded and it was really puffy,” she said.
A visit to the vet confirmed that Endo had equine recurring uveitis (ERU), also known as moon blindness. Unsure of the cause, the disease is a chronic, recurring inflammation of the uveal tract of the eye. It is also very painful, and the reason the vet decided to remove Endo’s infected eye, followed by the other eye nine months later when it suffered the same symptoms.
“We had to work on Endo’s balance once his eyes were removed. He was quite dizzy and sedated,” said Wagner, who started retraining Endo to adapt to his situation.
A little encouragement, and a taste of Endo’s favourite treats, also go a long way.
“He loves soft mints,” said Wagner, adding, “He remembers where the walls in his stalls are and where his favourite place to roll around is. He smells his way around. At home, he has a mini mare and a colt he loves to play with.”
Endo’s theatrical debut is also fitting as he is now used to performing in front of crowds.
Last year, he participated in his first show and competition at the Northwest Horse Expo All Breed Challenge and, thanks to a fundraising campaign, he and Wagner were able to attend the Andalusian World Cup in Las Vegas, where the crowds were amazed by his abilities….(CONTINUED)