Badly burned Northstar has for weeks been unable to bend down and graze since a cruel hooligan doused him with fuel and set him alight.
Now, as intensive veterinary treatment starts to turn around the life-threatening burns to 40 per cent of his body, Northstar is finally able to comfortably reach down to nibble on some fresh grass.
“It’s truly amazing that every challenge he has faced so far he has overcome,” says veterinarian Sam Hurcombe, of the Galbreath Equine Center at Ohio State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, where the six-year-old paint horse is getting the best of care.
Hurcombe, assistant professor of equine emergency and critical care at the center, is full of praise for the horse, saying he endears himself to all who work with him through his wonderful outlook.
Northstar, owned by Jessie and Bob Woodworth for all of his life, fell victim to the vicious attack on the night of August 25 in Athens Township, Crawford County, Pennsylvania.
The Woodworths found him the next morning hiding in woods, in agony from first, second and third degree burns to 40 per cent of his body.
His treatment began, but it was decided to transfer Northstar to Ohio State University so specialists could give him the intensive wound management he needed. He made the 210-mile journey on September 5.
Northstar has been making steady progress over the last fortnight.
“We have reduced the type and amount of pain medications he needs,” Hurcombe says.
“As his burns heal, the level of pain decreases in severity and we are able to carefully titrate his pain meds. We have also seen an improvement in how he moves around.
“He was previously unable to reach all the way down to the ground because of pain.”
This week, he has been able to graze from the ground seemingly with ease and without significant discomfort, Hurcombe reports.
His burns continue to look better at each dressing change, he says.
“We have removed more than 85 per cent of the necrotic tissue and can see some very good healing granulation tissue.”
Special dressings placed on Friday over his exposed bone were to be removed today, when specialists hope to see a big improvement in the amount of healing tissue covering bone.
“We are also seeing some good response from the wound edges as the body starts to try to close the space where skin is missing.”
Hurcombe says Northstar’s personality is endearing to all who work with him.
“He still has a wonderful attitude, eats well, enjoys treats whenever he can get them and is so tolerant of all we need to do with him.
“On a personal note, I am touched by the community support to Northstar and his owners by all who know of his story. This is truly a remarkable horse and the power of positivity cannot be discounted in a case like this.”
Northstar’s bills for the first month of his care are expected to top $US10,000, and friends of the Woodworths have set up a website, helpnorthstar.com, to keep the public updated on his condition. Donations can also be made through the website.
The College of Veterinary Medicine has also created the Northstar Equine Emergency Critical Care Fund in honor of this brave horse.
Meanwhile, Pennsylvania State Police are continuing inquiries into the attack and are seeking leads. Anyone with information can contact state police at 814-663-2043.