Feel Good Sunday: A Legend, a Story, and One Special Horse

by  Kristin Froneman – Vernon Morning Star

“Many have said they have never met a horse like him,”

The Horse

Endo the Appaloosa nuzzles and performs  for his owner/trainer Morgan Wagner during a rehearsal for Caravan Farm Theatre’s summer production of The Night’s Mare.— image credit: Kristin Froneman/Morning Star

Endo the Appaloosa nuzzles and performs for his owner/trainer Morgan Wagner during a rehearsal for Caravan Farm Theatre’s summer production of The Night’s Mare.— image credit: Kristin Froneman/Morning Star

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.

Caravanhorse-4cropped“He already knew some words before he lost his eyes, but he could no longer follow hand signals. Now he remembers words. He knows ‘jump,’ and if I say ‘leg’, he lifts his leg to say get on a bridge.”

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)

Click (HERE) to experience the rest of the story and to comment directly at Vernon Morning Star

12 comments on “Feel Good Sunday: A Legend, a Story, and One Special Horse

  1. Wonderful story. My step son worked with a big draft cross horse named Magic. Magic had been blind since birth, yet he pulled a big 2 wheel cart at renaissance festivals for 15 years, and my step son even drove him in the Fiesta Bowl Parade in Tempe, AZ for 3 years. Magic trusted explicitly. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love this. We had a blind mare Named Colour she went moon blind in her teens and made her debut in Cutting. She was a beautiful Appaloosa mare. She never bumped into anything. She listened to every word and she handed each hoof to the horse shoer when asked front left front right. But All of our Appaloosa horses including my Stallion uses alot of words. Understood every single thing we asked. He did dreassage and she was a cutter and together they raised a herd. She was lead mare and never had foal issues. Being blind shed call and then command and they would follow. She was unable to understand blindness was a disability. She thought that was such a stupid thing to say that she pushed my veterinarian in a water tank for saying it. Laughing he apologized and Never mentioned it again. She went in and out of paddocks as though she knew where every post was without seeing one. She sat and laid down with us to falling asleep crying over her blindness. However when I hauled her along for a cutting event….it changed my life. I saddled her to ride and we went into the holding pen outside and I selected a calf for funsies and she got down to work. Shockingly she got our calf! We signed her in without saying she was blind..it was far from our thoughts and we took first! She just needed to know what calf to “listen” for. One sound and she knew it. She was fluid. Appaloosas dont require vision when it comes right down to it their HEARTS see for them. I hope these two have much success in life.Her career was short as they didnt want Defective (blind) horses showing. She only saw them naysayers as defective and she herself was perfectly fine exactly how she was!

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  3. So very much is to learned from these Fabulous beings we have only touched the tip of it …………………. Thank You for sharing this beauties story !!!!!!!

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  4. THE LITTLE BLIND HORSE WHO HAS HELPED SO MANY TO SEE
    http://www.blindhorsecare.org/#1
    This website is dedicated to TJ’s Khan (“TJ”), a retired Standardbred racehorse, now blind from Equine Recurrent Uveitis (ERU), with whom I have the very great privilege to share my life.

    I am proud of this simple normality that TJ and I share, because at the time I rescued him, I never could have imagined such an end, for TJ will never see the glances and waves of the passersby. TJ is blind.

    And so it was that I climbed onto TJ’s back for the first time. From the moment of that first ride, our trust in each other has been complete and unconditional. There is no degree of separation between him and me when we ride. We are one animal; he is the legs, I am the eyes.

    TJ’s story has appeared in newspapers and on television news programs here in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area. He has shown many people that every living thing deserves an opportunity to reach its highest potential, and that maybe, just maybe, we shouldn’t be too quick to judge what the disabled are and are not capable of. He is the little blind horse who has lifted the veil of ignorance and prejudice from the eyes of many.

    But in the end, beyond this greater good, in our hearts TJ and I know the simple truth of the matter. We are both too stubborn to have anyone tell us we can’t do something, and perhaps too naive to even let it enter our minds that we can’t do it.

    He will be my riding partner, my friend, my kindred spirit until such time, a time of his choosing and no one else’s, when he truly wishes to spend his day grazing in that pasture.

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