A horse apparently left in the snowy Oregon wilderness in mysterious circumstances is now safely in care, and has been named St Nick in honor of the season.
St Nick was first sighted digging in snow for food in the woods by road workers.
The Oregon Department of Transportation crew first caught sight of him around 7am on Thursday in the Mt Hood area, alongside Highway 26.
They contacted Wasco County deputies, whose efforts to capture the horse were unsuccessful because he was too skittish.
However, they were able to get him safely away from the road where volunteers from the charity, Sound Equine Rescue, brought him hay for the night to encourage him to stay put and calm down.
Charity volunteers returned to the area the next day and – in a Christmas miracle of sorts – St Nick was waiting at the same spot.
St Nick, who appears to be about five years old, was again wary and refused to be caught, but the charity came well prepared. They were hauling a horse trailer and a portable corral.
St Nick was keen on the hay and eventually entered the corral to enjoy a snack and was captured.
He was then successfully loaded on the trailer and taken to a Portland equine hospital for assessment.
The charity said on its Facebook page that the transportation crew that first found St Nick had been worried, because the roads were dangerously icy and they feared he would cause a serious accident, injuring not only himself but anyone who hit him.
The workers followed his tracks to a nearby off-road, where it was obvious a truck and trailer had pulled over, turned the horse loose and taken off.
“There were no people tracks leaving the truck and trailer area, only horse foot prints – no-one went after him,” the charity reported.
They believe he was dumped either late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning.
Sound Equine Rescue says St Nick does not allow anyone close to him and does not appear to be halter broken.
However, he does have what looks like a scar from an ingrown halter at some point in his life.
“We think once he is not so frightened that he is going to be a real sweetheart.”
Anyone who recognises St Nick is asked to call the Wasco County Sheriff.