Nov. 21, 2022
Story and photos by Jens Odegaard
A foal should be frolicking. A little rear. A kick. A knicker; a whinny. A hop-step and jump into a full gallop. Little tail whipping in the breeze as the head bobs and weaves.
But Lil Buck wasn’t frolicking. Instead he had quite a hitch in his gitalong.
Born in mid-July, Lil Buck is a draft horse colt born and bred on Ruby and Amber’s Organic Farm in Dorena, Oregon. Seventy-plus acres along the Row River in the Lane County foothills of the Cascade Range, the farm utilizes draft horses, including Lil Buck’s mother Leah, to work the soil and harvest the crops.
Lil Buck (right in photo) and his summer cohort of fellow foals brought the herd to 14. A few weeks after they were born, Walt Bernard, who owns and runs the farm with his wife Kris Woolhouse, noticed Lil Buck limping on his left hind leg as he ambled around the corral.
Bernard confined Lil Buck to a stall for a few days, but rather than getting better, the limp worsened. Radiographs from Bernard’s local veterinarian, Del Oeste Equine Hospital’s Dr. Amber Lengele, DVM ’19, showed a fracture and inflammation on the upper end of the tibia where it forms the knee joint.
It was an injury that needed specialty treatment and care, and Lengele referred Lil Buck to the Oregon State University Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine’s Lois Bates Acheson Veterinary Teaching Hospital.
“Being so close to OSU, it's such a great resource,” Bernard said. “There's tons of cutting-edge staff, and excellent consultation and state-of-the-art management. I mean, there's really no other option for a horse with that kind of fracture except to put 'em down.”