Rescuers give Arabian bay gelding apt name - 'Trooper'
By Nina Mehlhaf, KTVZ.COM
A beautiful, young, Arabian gelding that was shot in the head and left to die in the forest is recovering wonderfully, while Forest Service officers and Deschutes County sheriff's deputies try to find who did this to him.
The horse has been named "Trooper" and is in the care of veterinarians in Tumalo who say they can't believe someone would resort to this.
"He's got a great appetite. Here Troop, come get some food," Dr. Wayne Schmotzer said Monday.
Schmotzer has seen many rescued horses, but Trooper, at Bend Equine Medical Center for only three days, already has a special place in his heart.
"It's an emotional event for everyone here," Schmotzer said. "That's why we're here, and that's why we rally around him."
Trooper, thought to be about five years old, was found Friday by hunters on Cache Mountain in the Sisters Ranger District of the Deschutes National Forest.
"He came willingly, and he was very calm," Schmotzer said. "He was an excellent little horse."
With his harness and lead line still on, Trooper's face was covered in blood, and an old wound on his leg was literally rotting his flesh off. He was 150 pounds underweight and had lost half of his blood.
"As we were cleaning him up, we saw a spot on the side of this temple and thought, 'Boy, this couldn't be a gunshot wound, could it?'" the vet said.
That's exactly what it was. In the X-rays, you can see bullet fragments that shattered his eye, but missed his brain. But the wound was almost healed, meaning Trooper had been shot over a week ago.
"If you were making a guess, they thought they were shooting the horse in the head, and they missed the parts they were after," Schmotzer said.
Joan Steelhammer of Equine Outreach, an organization that rescues horses in need, says because of the high cost of euthanization and the closure of the Redmond rendering plant, a few horse owners are taking death into their own hands - and most often, can't even get the bullet placement right.
"I have over 100 horses, and they're not just awful horses," Steelhammer said. "It's just, people are up against it. They're losing their homes, hay prices are high and things are happening, and it's a sad thing."
"Every horse comes with a person's story behind it."
Both Steelhammer and Dr. Schmotzer believe rumors and reports running through the horse world ultimately will flush the suspect out.
Meanwhile, eating gingerly with his jaw fracture, Trooper has certainly lived up to his name.
"If we can get the infection cleaned up in his head and once his eye is removed and his wounds are healed, he could potentially be as 100 percent as a one-eyed horse can be," Schmotzer said. "He should be happy."
Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch outside of Bend already has adopted Trooper. The ranch pairs up formally abused horses with abused or neglected children as a form of healing.
This problem has gotten so big that Wednesday night, Equine Outreach is helping to put on a conference to address the issue of getting rid of a horse the humane way.
When he was found, the very hungry and thirsty Arabian bay (dark brown) gelding (de-sexed male) was "very thirsty and hungry," Forest Service spokeswoman Sue Olson said over the weekend.
"The horse appears to have been well cared for in the past," said Forest Service law enforcement officer Fred Perl.
Trooper has a white star on his forehead, a short white sock on his left rear leg and a white ankle sock on his right rear leg.
The Forest Service and Deschutes County Sheriff's Office are jointly investigating the case. Forest Service law enforcement officers ask anyone with information about the horse, or to help locate its owner, to contact them through the sheriff's office dispatch number, (541) 693-6911.
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