Caregiver buys horse at auction
A severely injured horse that was discovered over a month ago on U.S. Highway 97, several miles north of Madras, has been purchased at auction by Karen McCarthy, the good samaritan who has been nursing the horse back to health.
The bay mare, which had suffered serious lacerations on its right front leg, as well as injuries to both sides of its face and its right hip, was spotted along Highway 97 on Nov. 8, not too far from McCarthy's home.
When a Jefferson County sheriff's deputy asked McCarthy if she could take care of it until they found an owner, she agreed, and began the time-consuming and costly care and rehabilitation of the horse, which was never claimed.
A week after she began caring for the horse, which she named "HoneyBadger" after a tough animal in a viral video, the local brand inspector informed her that state law required the horse to be auctioned off, with proceeds going to the Oregon Department of Agriculture.
Despite McCarthy's pleas that the horse needed more time to heal, a telephone auction was set up on Nov. 28. McCarthy, who was concerned about the fate of the horse, put in a bid of $25 an hour before the auction closed. She was the only bidder.
Had she lost the bid, McCarthy said, "I truthfully don't know what would have happened to her; she probably would have been euthanized. I adopted her so she could be saved.
The horse, which she believes is a thoroughbred that was likely a brood mare, is making tremendous strides in her recovery. "You can tell by her attitude that she's getting better," said McCarthy.
Assisting her since the very first day has been Dr. Angie Kemper, a Madras veterinarian, who has volunteered her time and provided medication at cost to McCarthy. Kemper checked in on HoneyBadger on Saturday.
"She's doing fantastic," said Kemper. "She's healing a lot faster than we'd expected."
The mare's hip injury could still cause problems, however. "It's the one question mark; two to three weeks will tell," she said. "It looks like she's going to do phenomenal."
McCarthy believes that HoneyBadger may have landed on that hip when she was injured -- either from falling out of a trailer or getting hit by a vehicle.
"One hip, you can see is about a half-inch lower," said McCarthy, who is raising money to have diagnostic imaging done on the hip.
Kemper attributes the horse's rapid recovery to McCarthy's care. "Karen's done such a good job taking care of her, and that's the reason she's doing so well; she's following every instruction."
The horse's leg wound, which covered most of the leg, is now filling in, thanks to regular bandaging, which puts pressure on the leg to guide the formation of new tissue.
"She's moving really sound on it, so chances are, it's going to be pretty good," said McCarthy.
Last week, she began turning the horse out into a 3-acre paddock for the first time, and the horse seemed to do well.
"She was not with any horses, but they're nearby and she can talk to them over the fence," said McCarthy. "She's kind of indifferent -- pretty typical of a horse that's been around other horses. She likes to eat more than socialize."
And eating is important for the thin horse. "She probably weighs about 800 pounds," said McCarthy, who would expect a horse of HoneyBadger's size (15.3 hands, or 63 inches at the shoulder) to weigh 300 to 400 pounds more.
An avid horsewoman, McCarthy already owned five other horses, along with the 10 horses owned by her husband Dave Keiser. "I'm probably going to integrate her with the other horses in the next few days," she said.
When HoneyBadger is fully recovered, McCarthy doesn't plan to keep her. She hopes the mare will be suitable for an equine breeding clinic, where HoneyBadger would be "saying hello to the boys."
To allow those interested to follow HoneyBadger's progress, a friend of McCarthy's set up a Facebook page called HoneyBadger's Story. Those who want to contribute to the care of HoneyBadger can donate in her name at Bank of the West in Madras.