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Blind Horse Defies Disability, Sets 3 World Records With the Help of an Owner Who Never Gave Up

(Courtesy of Endo the Blind)

3/28/2024 Updated:4/12/2024

From The Epoch Times

A woman who never gave up on her blind horse has helped him flourish—despite his disability. The pair have gone on to stun the equine world since the stoic steed became a national champion, setting three world records in the process.

Morgan Wagner, 37, runs a horse stable in Eugene, Oregon, where she works with a 23-year-old blind Appaloosa horse—Endo the Blind—and other disabled animals.

When Ms. Wagner was 13, she chose Endo as a months-old foal from her grandmother’s stable, and the pair have since been inseparable.

However, when Endo began struggling with eye problems at the age of 8, Ms. Wagner was surprised as neither of his parents nor his grandparents had such issues.

“I was really sad. I mean, he’s my best friend,” she told The Epoch Times. “He had weepy eyes, and then the vet diagnosed him with equine recurrent uveitis and said he would go blind eventually. We had a hard time with the medications because he fought me so hard about putting eyedrops in his eyes ... [and] the oral medication made his stomach hurt. His favorite thing is eating, and he didn’t even want to do that.”

Before Endo’s eyesight began to decline, Ms. Wagner had been diagnosed with lupus, and at that time, Endo became her rock. As she struggled with visiting the barn and doing anything, Endo learned how to lay down so that she could get on him easily. He also picked up voice cues to lower his head.

So, when it was Endo’s turn to be cared for, Ms. Wagner was ready to go above and beyond. When one of Endo’s eyes was removed, Ms. Wagner began preparing him to cope with total blindness by using a blindfold and coaxing him to take one small step at a time—led by her voice and comforted by her presence.

Six months later, his second eye was removed.

“He was scared of being completely blind,” Ms. Wagner said. “He didn’t want to lead at first, he just shook and then didn’t want to move, so we did baby steps, first walking around the barn and then the arena, then outside for short bits of time, then longer walks.”

Endo’s surgery went smoothly, and he was in less pain after his eyes were removed. However his confidence suffered, so Ms. Wagner had to find things to work on.

“I did a lot of training scenarios at home, so when we encountered [obstacles] outside the home, it was just another training drill,” she said.

Endo was even scared to canter up to walls. “He could sense the corners , he was worried about hitting the wall,” Ms. Wagner said.

But as his other senses grew more keen, so did his rider’s.

“That took a lot of time,” she said. “I have to be very aware of the footing ... do I need to adjust his step? ... I’m a lot more sensitive to sounds, like, I could tell just listening to somebody walk if it’s cold outside because you can hear the difference, the moisture content in the dirt. He made me super aware of sounds, so that way I can be aware of what he hears.

“Now I can turn him loose anywhere, in new places, and he can sense everything. He can tell if a gate is open or closed, where a window is, where’s a wall, where’s a fence.”

Endo put his new skills to the test on Oct. 29, 2022, when he rode in the national championships and walked away with three Guinness World Records, proving that his disability was no longer disabling at all. He won the following titles: Highest Free Jump by a Blind Horse: 106 cm, Most Flying Changes by a Horse in One Minute: 39, and Fastest Time for a Blind Horse to Weave Five Poles: 6.93 seconds.

Sharing more about the process of winning the titles, Ms. Wagner said: “The first one was the jump, so I had to work with him on not stopping before the jump. He can sense the jumps at home, we train the height ... I have him touch his nose first to it, so then he remembers how high he needs to jump.

“The second one was number of lead changes at a canter ... he was changing his leads every two strides. The final one was fastest time weaving five poles. ... we ran through it once, and then he was ready to go. He did that one pretty easily!”

Ms. Wagner and Endo have come a long way since they were first united as youngsters when Endo was a gangly foal, and Ms. Wagner was a teen who “didn’t even know how to put a halter on a horse.” They learned together. Trail riding and jumping became their favorite activities, but they didn’t compete in shows until Endo lost his sight.

Endo has been one of the hardest horses Ms. Wagner has ever trained, but his tenacity makes their journey all the more rewarding.

“He just keeps trying until he gets the answer right, then I’m able to tell him ‘good boy,’ and he understands he did the right thing,” Ms. Wagner told The Epoch Times. “I like obstacles ... figuring out how we would do something together, going over a bridge or a big hill or a big drop off. I just like working through problems with him.”

The blind Appaloosa has a huge following on social media, and people enjoy witnessing him living his best life. Today, Endo can do anything a sighted horse can do, and Ms. Wagner considers the “super slow and careful” horse her safest one.

“I could put a 4-year-old on him who has no idea how to ride, and within minutes he could steer and stop him,” she said.  “He likes being famous and everybody petting on him and giving him cookies. ... Disability doesn’t mean the end.”

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