PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – A blind horse from Oregon recently earned three Guinness World Records titles.
Morgan Wagner and her 22-year-old Appaloosa horse known as Endo the Blind set the records for 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).
Wagner told KOIN 6 News she’s so proud of Endo and is still in shock over his accomplishments.
Endo was born a healthy colt in 2000 and Wagner adopted him when she was 13.
Eight years later, Wagner started noticing Endo squinting a lot. His eyes would get red and weepy. Veterinarians diagnosed him with equine recurrent uveitis, a common disorder and the leading cause of blindness in horses.
The flare-ups continued until Endo was 12-13. Then, they started getting worse. Treatments weren’t working and after consulting with the veterinarian, Wagner decided it was best to have Endo’s eyes removed.
Surgeons removed the right eye first and the left eye 6 months later.
To prepare Endo for his future blindness, Wagner would blindfold him to help him get familiar with the feeling.
Still, blindness was a massive adjustment for the horse and Endo was terrified.
“He was very scared in the beginning, so I took him for walks around the barn and then moved on to walks around the property,” Wagner said.
Over time, Endo learned to rely more on his other senses to move around and to feel for obstacles.
In the second jump Endo completed for the Guiness World Record, Wagner said she doesn’t know how he knew where the jump was, but he must have sensed it somehow and did it.
Endo can do everything a horse with sight can do. He completes, goes on trail rides, travels, jumps and performs liberty work.
Wagner hopes his story will inspire the equestrian community to focus on the abilities of blind horses rather than their limitations.
She said Endo just keeps getting better with time.
In 2019, he was named the national champion at the master’s level. He took some time off after that, but when the Guinness World Record challenge was presented, Wagner knew they had to do it.
Endo knows 40 to 50 voice commands and Wagner’s timing for giving the commands has to be spot on for him to get over jumps.
Together, the two have been working on a dance performance over the last 5 years. Endo isn’t on a rope or lead during the performance. He’ll stand in the arena and go through the routine as Wagner instructs it. Wagner hopes she and Endo will be prepared to perform the routine soon.
She’s incredibly proud of her horse and said even though he lost his eyes, he never lost his spirit. Her advice to others is “don’t have big goals, just what your horse can do, reward, and try a little bit more next time.”
Anyone interested in seeing Endo compete can watch him at his next event, the Northwest Horse Expo in Albany, on March 24-26.
Wagner and Endo live and train in Corvallis.