A special performance by a very special horse will be one of the highlights at this year’s Breyerfest Carnival, where model horse fans get together to share the equine love.
Blind horse Endo, along with his owner Morgan Wagner, is one of the performers at Breyerfest this year, from July 22 to 24 at the Kentucky Horse Park.
The extraordinary pair got together more than 15 years ago in Oregon, when Morgan’s grandmother said Morgan could keep any horse she wanted. Morgan chose Endo, a young appaloosa gelding, and the duo developed a deep connection almost instantly, quickly finding their passion in working equitation, trick training and liberty work.
But throughout their time together, Endo developed glaucoma and recurrent uveitis, also known as moon blindness. Over time, Endo became more and more blind and suffered from painful symptoms in his eyes. By the time he was 12, Morgan decided his suffering had become too much and made the difficult decision to have his first eye removed; the second was removed six months later.
For many horses, this might have resulted in an extremely poor quality of life, but Morgan knew she couldn’t let that happen. Having grown up with her own chronic illness, lupus, Morgan knew she could help Endo through this extreme life change. She was determined to nurse him back to confidence, as normally and naturally as possible.
“I was back on Endo the day after his surgery,” said Morgan. “The vet said it would be best if Endo kept up his normal routine, so that’s what we did.”
One of Endo’s biggest challenges was keeping his balance after the change. Although Endo was mostly blind before his eyes were removed, he could still see light and dark. “When his eyes were removed he would get dizzy and unbalanced. We spent a lot of time working on circles, which were especially hard for him. We spent months slowly shrinking the circle and increasing speed,” Morgan said.
Overall, Endo made the transition extremely well. He quickly adjusted to his new life, easily learning how to navigate his stall, find his feed and water and most of all, stay in sync with Morgan. Within a year, Morgan and Endo were competing again, navigating the working equitation courses with preciseness and confidence – Morgan even taught Endo how to jump on command. A trust that was already inspiring became stronger than ever.
“Endo is very smart and at times opinionated but he really loves everyone and tries hard to please,” said Morgan. Unlike many horses, Endo does not have a favorite treat.
“Endo eats everything! Especially if I’m eating; even if I try to eat quietly, he smells it and finds my hand holding the food,” said Morgan, laughing.
Today, Morgan and Endo enjoy a very ordinary life of training and competing; and of course the occasional star performances at events such BreyerFest.
“We’re so excited to perform at BreyerFest! We have never been to Kentucky before,” said Morgan.
But most of all, Endo and Morgan enjoy spending time and having fun together.