Starved horse the perfect ambassador on childhood hunger trek

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Star-Buck was in a bad way when he was rescued, weighing only 400 pounds.
Star-Buck was in a bad way when he was rescued, weighing only 400 pounds.

Six years ago, Star-Buck was near death. Emaciated and weighing only 400 pounds, he was rescued by Angela Wood and friends. Now, the 10-year-old quarter horse gelding is strong enough to walk across the country with Wood to raise awareness for childhood hunger.

In Wood’s years as a long-distance truck driver, she saw more childhood hunger throughout America than she cares to remember. Having gone through Star-Buck’s rescue and nursing him back to health from the brink of starvation, she thought of a way to combine those stories into an awareness-raising event.

When he was rescued as a four-year-old stallion, Star-Buck emaciated and unable to stand. At first, he was supported by a large hay bale, and then a sling brought him to his feet. It was used for three days to keep him upright, before he was finally able to stand on his own.

A large hay bale keeps Star-Buck sitting up.
A large hay bale keeps Star-Buck sitting up.

“Star-Buck is the perfect poster child for hunger,” said Wood, explaining the origin of her campaign. “He knows hunger as well as anyone.”

So in the summer of 2018, Wood set out from her home in Kentucky for a cross-country journey with Star-Buck and Renegade, 15-year-old paint horse. The horses pulled a covered wagon that became Wood’s home for more than a year.

Renegade and Star-Buck heading out of Winnemucca, Nevada, in August.
Renegade and Star-Buck heading out of Winnemucca, Nevada, in August.

“I slept in that wagon almost every night,” said Wood. “I’d pull into families’ farms and ranches – the hospitality has been truly amazing.”

Wood and the horses headed east for the North Carolina coast. Once there, they turned around and officially started their coast-to-coast journey to California. All was well for 13 months and more than 4000 miles until Renegade suffered an injury in Nevada. Wood decided to leave the wagon with supporters and finish the journey riding Star-Buck.

As she approached the Sacramento area, her supporters contacted the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine to inquire about a place for Star-Buck to bunk for the night. The school offered a stall in the barns of its veterinary hospital and looked forward to Star-Buck’s arrival.

When they arrived at UC Davis, Star-Buck was showing slight signs of lameness. Dr Larry Galuppo, chief of the Equine Surgery and Lameness Service, and a team of residents, technicians, and students examined Star-Buck to make sure he was healthy enough to complete the final portion of the journey to the coast.

Dr Larry Galuppo and Angela Wood discuss ongoing care for Star-Buck as Wood completes her cross-country journey.
Dr Larry Galuppo and Angela Wood discuss ongoing care for Star-Buck as Wood completes her cross-country journey.

Thankfully, Star-Buck’s injuries were slight – just a bit sore from the saddle. So the team worked with Wood to help her adjust the saddle to not affect the minor sores Star-Buck was developing on his sides. After two days of rest at the veterinary hospital for Star-Buck, he and Wood were back on the road for the final seven days to the Pacific Ocean.

Childhood Hunger American Trek

2 thoughts on “Starved horse the perfect ambassador on childhood hunger trek

  • October 13, 2019 at 9:31 am
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    I bought a pregnant horse once, sight unseen, and when she was delivered I was horrified at the way she looked. Skin and bones, full winter coat in June, long hooves, big belly, and so weak she swayed back and forth. I got the vet up right away who wormed her, gave her a dose of vitamins, and told me the foal would be born dead, but to slowly start feeding her very small amounts of grain with full access to hay. Took two of us to hold her upright when the farrier did her feet, as she couldn’t stand on three feet. I feed her 1/2 a cup of grain every four hours, and over time worked it up to a full amount of mixed grain, pellets in a mash of wet beet pulp. Once getting food, she shed out, completely within 5 days and was totally hairless. I kept her in a huge stall with thick bedding, so the sun wouldn’t hurt her skin. By the time a month had gone by she was plump and healthy looking, and her foal was born healthy, too. The vet couldn’t believe the way she looked after only a month, and said he was surprised that the foal was in such good shape. I talked another woman, who couldn’t afford to feed her horse, into letting me keep it on my farm so it would have my horses for company. I was embarrassed leading the poor skinny thing home. In no time she was fat and healthy. The owner came to see her a few times but never asked for her back. I now own 6 horses, and their care and feeding always come first. One neighbor, who owned thin horses, asked me once if I fattened my horses up for winter. I told him that, no, they always look this way. Then he asked if I could look after one of his ponies for 2 weeks. 3 years later I still had the little guy.

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