Columbia Basin Herald via Associated Press
OTHELLO, Wash. (AP) -- "Up mama, up, up, up," says Lori Marchand, of Marlin.
She's talking to Tate, a blind Appaloosa horse being lead out of a stall by her son, Brandon Marchand, 17. Tate picks up her hooves to clear the edge of the stall and walks outside to enjoy the sunlight at the Adams County Fair Wednesday. Tate is being shown at the fair this week by another Marchand, Caleb, 10.
Her path to the fair was filled with adversity that she overcame with the help of the Marchands.
Tate became part of the family eight years ago after they bought her. She was thin, stumbling and needed medical attention. After taking Tate to a veterinarian, it was learned the horse sustained blunt force trauma to the head, receiving permanent damage to her eyes. Lori suspects she may have been hit by a two-by-four piece of wood.
A visit to the veterinarian confirmed she was losing her sight and only had a year to live. The veterinarian believed Tate would die after realizing her blindness and wouldn't be able to handle the situation mentally.
The family responded to Tate's medical crisis by pouring $4,000 and countless hours of time and energy into Tate's care.
Six years after receiving that diagnosis, Tate is alive.
"She went on to become a mother three times. She raised three beautiful babies," Lori told the Columbia Basin Herald.
One of her babies, a filly, helps her mother by keeping others out of her personal space. She apparently senses her mother is blind and wants to help.
In addition to experiencing motherhood, Tate starting appearing at the fair with the Marchands through the Working Horse 4-H Club.
Brandon first started riding Tate and was followed by his four other siblings. But because of worries about blind horses being dangerous, we had to jump through a lot of hoops so she could be in the program, Lori commented.
Now Tate can get in an out of a horse trailer and understands the commands of up, down and over.
With the family's help, Tate persevered and has also competed at the state level.
"I think it taught all the kids a greater sense," Lori commented. Brandon had to learn to help her learn.
Information from: Columbia Basin Herald, http://www.columbiabasinherald.com
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.