Pat Raia for TheHorse.com reports this story:
Trooper, the 6-year-old Arabian gelding shot in the head and abandoned in the Deschutes National Forest in Oregon now has a new home, a new name, and a future helping kids in need.
The horse, renamed Hero, arrived at the Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch in Bend, Ore., on Nov. 21. He continues to recover from surgeries to remove his left eye and repair a serious leg wound. Eventually, he will join the ranch’s free riding instruction program that pairs rescued horses with children in need.
“We changed his name to Hero because of all he’s been through,” said ranch equine program manager Kelsie Patka. “He’s a symbol of hope.”
This is the “happy” ending to a story about a horse who has such determination to live it is unlike anything you are likely to come across ever again.
Here is the full story from the website of Hero’s new home, Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch, in Oregon.
By KIM MEEDER
After nearly 14 years of equine rescue, I thought that I had seen it all, sadly . . . I WAS WRONG.
On October 18th, Troy and I were contacted by those in charge of recovering a small horse that was found by hunters wandering in the high wilderness of the Cascade Mountain range. Evident by his halter and dragging lead rope, the bay Arab gelding was clearly not wild. Instead, while he was being transported to Bend Equine Medical Center for emergency treatment, he was kind and gentle, quietly submitting to those who were trying to care for him. Based on what little information that could be gathered, it was estimated that he had been wandering for several weeks. Even for a small horse, he looked to be about 200 lbs. underweight and was INCREDIBLY dehydrated. Once at the hospital, it was confirmed . . . his wounds were severe.
A leg wound on the back of his left front cannon was so festered with rampant infection that its rotten stench filled the room. A ‘makeshift’ bandage of green vet wrap had grown into the leg and effectively become a tourniquet, further adding to the suffering of this abandoned horse. Once the layers of caked blood, puss and bio-matter were removed, the tendons of his leg were clearly visible.
Even more troubling was the fact that his left eye was completely destroyed and hanging out of its socket. There was also a very suspicious looking depressed wound near his left eye. His head, neck, shoulder and front leg gave further evidence of the severity of his injuries, as they were heavily crusted with his own blood. As bad as his eye injury was, his head injury was much worse.
X-rays revealed the UNTHINKABLE. This gentle, little horse with the kind spirit . . . had been shot in the head. His x-rays clearly showed where someone had shot him three inches behind his left eye. The trajectory of the bullet traveled through the top of his lower jaw, shattering it, and continued to penetrate his skull as it exploded into nearly three dozen-inoperable-fragments of jagged shrapnel. Compounding his plight even further, his blood tests showed that he had lost fully HALF of his blood volume.
It was hard to believe, looking at him for the first time, that he had survived for an undetermined amount of time with a horrifically infected leg wound, a broken jaw, a destroyed eye and lethal blood loss, all with an exploded bullet scattered throughout his head. If this weren’t bad enough, he was also left to wander in a high altitude forest while dragging a lead rope. Any one of these things should have destroyed him. Yet, here he was, standing before me, blinking inquisitively at my presence with his one remaining eye. I was overcome with the thought that . . . it was a complete miracle he was standing at all!
It appeared that someone felt his leg wound was just too much for them to deal with; or perhaps they believed that it was a fatal wound. Somehow, they felt that loading up their friend and driving him to a remote location to be destroyed . . . was their best option. A ‘best guess’ is that they shot him in the head and fell unconscious from the impact. Bleeding profusely from his wound, it was believed that during this time, he bled out half of his blood volume. Thinking he was dead, the perpetrators left the scene. Miraculously, he woke up. Somehow summoning the strength to stand, he lurched to his feet and staggered away.
Even though his wounds are grave, he is not. He is continuing to make meaningful progress in his efforts to heal. And in less than one week, this amazing horse will be coming to Crystal Peaks! Because of the severity of his injuries, his recovery will be long and intensive. But the staff, volunteers and kids who come to the ranch are not only up for the challenge of caring for a critically ill horse . . . they can’t wait until he comes home. Instead of ‘waiting’, they are going to him! Since the moment it was determined that this special horse was going to become a part of our family, more days than not, I have driven my truck to the equine hospital filled with young ‘well wishers’ who are determined to help this wounded soul KNOW that he is greatly loved.
Read Meeder’s heartfelt thoughts here.
Raia ends her report with:
U.S. Forest Service officers and local horse owners rescued Hero from the forest Oct. 15. Russell Willeford, 27, of Banks, Ore., was charged with criminal animal abuse in connection with the incident.