Found on side of highway
Nearly two weeks after a severely injured horse was found along U.S. Highway 97 north of Madras, the mare is on the mend, thanks to the care of a local woman.
Karen McCarthy, of Madras, was at home eating breakfast with her mother around 8:30 a.m. Nov. 8, when a deputy from the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office drove into their driveway to ask if they had a horse outside their fence.
McCarthy did a quick count -- she has five Norwegian Fjord mares, and her husband, Dave Keiser, has 10 Arabian and quarter horses -- to be sure the horse wasn't theirs.
Nevertheless, she offered to pick the horse up and keep it until they found the owner. "I had an empty trailer hooked up to the pickup," said McCarthy.
She and her mother, Charlotte Devaney, who is visiting from British Columbia, Canada, drove out to check on the horse and see what they could do.
"We looked at her and she was absolutely wretched," said McCarthy. "She didn't even move. She had head injuries on both sides of her face. One eye looked bad; it was really, really messed up."
From the injuries to the horse, McCarthy surmised that the horse might have fallen out of a horse trailer, or been hit by a vehicle at low speed.
"On her right leg, she has big, jagged cuts around her knee," she said. "It goes straight to the bone in one."
McCarthy enlisted the support of veterinarian Angie Kemper, who lives nearby, and stitched up a wound on one side of the horse's face. Kemper is helping care for the horse "pro bono," and providing medication at cost.
An avid horsewoman, McCarthy has experience caring for sick horses. With her mother, she has been cleaning and wrapping the horse's wounds twice a day, and administering antibiotics and painkillers twice a day.
Ag West has also provided bandages, stall bedding and vitamins at cost, she said.
When she picked up the horse, which she believes is a thoroughbred, McCarthy said, "She was depressed and in shock. She was fairly lethargic and pretty quiet; now she's waking up."
Two days after she took in the horse, which she calls "HoneyBadger," McCarthy arranged to use the wash rack owned by her friends Leo and Shari Edwards.
Even with seven or eight people using hot water to carefully clean the horse, whose fur was almost completely covered with cow manure, it still took about two hours.
"We tried to do it as quickly as possible," she said.
The washing uncovered the extent of the injuries. "From her knee to her hoof, the injury covers most of her right front leg," McCarthy said.
At Kemper's suggestion, she attached "HoneyBadger" to a high line to prevent the mare from sitting, in case there was damage to her hip. This week, McCarthy removed her from the high line.
"She's doing really well," McCarthy said Monday. "She was out today, and I like the way her wound was healing up."
"HoneyBadger," a bay mare, appears to be 6 or 7 years old. "From every indication, she's been a brood mare," said McCarthy, who believes the horse has had at least two foals.
Right after she took the horse in, a friend of hers put a notification on Craig's List, the radio and set up a page on Facebook. The Sheriff's Office also issued a press release seeking information on the horse's ownership.
"We have heard absolutely nothing," she said.
However, the local brand inspector contacted her on Thursday, Nov. 15, and visited on Saturday. "He said the mare needed to be sold at auction because she was considered state property because she was found along the highway," McCarthy said.
"She's not really salable in the condition she's in," said McCarthy, who is concerned that the horse may have escaped from transport to a slaughter facility.
Even though thoroughbreds tend to be leaner, she said, "She's probably a good 300 pounds underweight. Her topline is very exposed -- prominent."
McCarthy hopes that the horse can have a future. "I want to see this horse get better and move on," she said. "It could be used by an equine clinic that does breeding."
If the horse were in good condition, she said, "HoneyBadger" would only be worth about $250, and they've already put more than that into her care.
"We're not trying to rip the state off," she said. "We're just trying to make her whole. I think it will work out."
Those interested in HoneyBadger's progress can visit the Facebook page HoneyBadger's Story, and those who want to contribute can use the following link: https://www.wepay.com/donations/friends-of-honeybadger.