Horse makes dramatic recovery


After suffering severe trauma

by: HOLLY M. GILL - Courtney Haber, of Bend, rides HoneyBadger in the arena during her public debut at SGF Sporthorse in Sisters on Sept. 12.  The horse's owner hopes to find a good home for HoneyBadger.When Karen McCarthy first laid eyes on the horse now known as "HoneyBadger," she thought the mare's condition was hopeless.

A Jefferson County sheriff's deputy had spotted the injured horse along U.S. Highway 97, outside the fence of property owned by McCarthy and her husband Dave Keiser, and came to their door to looking for the horse's owner.

McCarthy and her mother, Charlotte Devaney, who was visiting from Canada, drove a truck and empty horse trailer out to check on the severely injured horse.

"I thought she was a goner," said McCarthy, recalling that day in November 2012. "She had a fever and so many injuries — so much trauma."

McCarthy loaded the horse up, and took her home, hoping to care for her until she could locate the horse's owner. Although she never found the horse's owner, she did manage to help a very damaged horse recover its health and spirit.

With round-the-clock care, the assistance of veterinarian Angie Kemper, of Madras, and direct and indirect help from the community, the horse's extensive wounds have healed.

The horse, believed to be 7 or 8 years old now, had injuries to her head and eye, jagged cuts — all the way to the bone — on her right leg, and was extremely malnourished.

by: HOLLY M. GILL - Karen McCarthy, of Madras, has rehabilitated the horse known as 'HoneyBadger,' which is now ready for a new owner."You could see almost every rib and feel her ribs," said McCarthy, who estimated that the horse weighed 850-950 pounds at the time. "She had hardly any muscle tone. She'd obviously been confined somewhere without any ability to get out and exercise. She looked like you could push her over."

A horsewoman with previous experience rehabilitating horses, McCarthy surmised that the horse had fallen from a trailer or been hit by a slow-moving vehicle, but was unable to confirm her theories.

Impressed with the horse's toughness, McCarthy named her "HoneyBadger" after an actual honey badger that became an Internet sensation for its dogged determination in the face of adversity.

Although no one is sure what breed of horse she is, they have speculated that she might be a thoroughbred, standardbred, or Morgan. They also concluded that HoneyBadger has been a brood mare, who had very little handling experience.

After seeing steady improvement for seven months, in June, Kemper cleared HoneyBadger to enter saddle training. McCarthy paid for the board and training to increase the horse's value for sale. "You can't sell a horse based on looks alone," she said.

by: HOLLY M. GILL - HoneyBadger's bay coat is now sleek and shiny, with few traces of the injuries she suffered over 10 months ago.Throughout the rehabilitation process, McCarthy never intended to keep HoneyBadger. "I have too many horses," she said, noting that she has seven Norwegian Fjords, and her husband has about eight rescue horses. "There are only so many you can have at one time. From the beginning, I was (only) going to rehabilitate her."

To allow supporters to follow HoneyBadger's rehabilitation, McCarthy and friends posted regular photos and updates on a Facebook page — "HoneyBadger's Story."

Now, more than 10 months after McCarthy began caring for HoneyBadger, the effort that she and others put into the horse's recovery is apparent in the horse's shiny coat, increased weight, confident gait, and attitude.

On Thursday, Sept. 12, friends and supporters were invited to the SGF Sporthorses facility, outside Sisters, to watch as trainers put HoneyBadger through her paces in an indoor arena.

"Karen did a phenomenal job," said Samantha Fairfield, who owns SGF Sporthorses, and has been training HoneyBadger for the past three months.

During that time, HoneyBadger became comfortable with riders. "In comparison to other horses, she was actually fairly easy (to train)," said Fairfield. "She didn't have all these issues that we had to work through; she was basically a blank slate."

Fairfield believes that HoneyBadger would make a nice horse to compete in lower level dressage, or as a trail or family horse.

"Now, she is a lovely, smooth, bold, mare to ride," she commented on HoneyBadger's Facebook page. "I will miss her greatly, as I have spent more than the usual training time on this horse, but I really look forward to seeing the next chapter of her story, and feel honored to have been an integral part of it!"

For more information about HoneyBadger, contact McCarthy through the Facebook page, or at Garden Depot, 541-475-2068.