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Oakdale Equine Rescue Living Up To Its Name
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Oakdale Equine Rescue Founder and President, Jeannine Etheridge admires the grace and spirit of Bey, a 15-year-old Bay Gelding Quarter Horse rescued from Merced, weighing just 636 pounds at time of rescue last June. He is now a healthy 1,000 pounds. - photo by Teresa Hammond/The Leader

One truly never knows what any given day will hold for the board members and volunteers of Oakdale Equine Rescue. One thing, however, is for certain: when a call is received by one of their partnered Animal Control organizations, the team jumps into place to respond whenever possible.

Entering its eighth year and with over 470 horses rescued, the 501c3 still has occasion to experience “firsts” when it comes to horses in need of their aid.

Serving as a perfect example of this, this past June the Equine Rescue was contacted by Merced Animal Control looking for assistance in moving a neglected horse from a property.

The horse, Bey, a 15-year-old quarter horse bay gelding, had been neglected by its owner and was found tucked away behind a barn, discovered by a machine operator tending to an alfalfa field.

“The corral that he was in had wood slats, so even if someone was able to see him, they wouldn’t know his condition,” Oakdale Equine Rescue President Jeannine Etheridge stated. “Inside the corral was sandy dirt with no growing grass for him to graze on. All that he could graze on were sticker bushes.”

His “condition” was what prompted grave concern from Etheridge as well as Dr. Daniel Sweet, DVM, Veterinarian and Owner of Sweet River Equine Clinic. Due to the neglect, his front hooves had grown out over 12 inches and his weight was down to 636 pounds.

“When we got there he was literally unable to walk,” Etheridge stated of the rescue effort. “We could not load him in the trailer going forward as he would trip or get tangled up in his feet. So we had to back him in.”

As Bey was transported from the Stevinson area to Sweet River Equine Clinic in Modesto, Etheridge thought for sure he’d fall – but he didn’t. Given his physical state, she admitted both she and Sweet anticipated once at Sweet River Equine, they would have to put him down and relieve the pain brought on from the neglect.

“He surprised us all,” she said. “We decided to do X-rays and all of us were shocked to find that his bone structure wasn’t as damaged as we thought, and that he was worth giving a shot at getting better.”

Seven months later, the efforts of Oakdale Equine Rescue, Dr. Sweet and Farrier Sean Finn are proving fruitful for Bey. The horse currently weighs in at a healthy 1,000 pounds.

Farrier Finn was faced with the delicate challenge of trimming down the hooves, so that Bey could regain proper mobility and begin healing.

“When hooves are not trimmed on a regular basis they end up getting long and turning into slipper feet like what Bey had,” Etheridge stated. “Hooves in his condition often are a death sentence for a horse due to rotations of the bones in the foot (coffin bone). The excess that was cut off weighed five pounds each.”

According to Etheridge, once the hooves were properly trimmed back, Bey was placed in boots and recently progressed to clogs. As the health of the hooves improves, he will be placed in shoes and if completely sound he will return to barefoot. Full regrowth of hooves takes approximately a year, so the ultimate outcome has yet to be seen.

Etheridge noted the generosity of services from Dr. Sweet and Farrier Finn as critical in the rehab process of the gelding.

“Dr. Dan Sweet has been phenomenal with Bey’s progress and Farrier Sean Finn has donated all of his services to get Bey where he is today,” she said.

Donations from social media followers have also been instrumental in covering the costs of Bey’s care. Oakdale Equine Rescue, OER, has used Facebook to shed light on Bey’s story from beginning to present day. In so doing, people from around the world have made donations to help cover vet services, his boots, clogs and varying other needs.

“Facebook has been everything,” Etheridge said of the reach and generosity.

“Bey was all by himself, no horses anywhere,” Etheridge added of the horse and his strong spirit. “He went through the coldest and wettest winter we’ve had in a long time with absolutely no shelter. I have been blessed to have taken in this beautiful bay gelding quarter horse and doctor him back to health.”

Once complete health and hooves are restored, Bey has re-homing options. A mounted unit has expressed interest in using him for light duty if he is sound. Plan B for the quarter horse will be as a pasture pet with a local family.

Etheridge noted the work done through OER is only made possible because of relationships with those like Sweet and Finn, as well as board members Lora Handley, Mary Smith and the generosity of donors.

Currently OER has 10 rescues on property for adoption. Tax deductible adoption fees range from as low as $400 to $2,000 depending on the horse. For additional information or to make a donation to Oakdale Equine Rescue e-mail, visit or mail checks to Oakdale Equine Rescue, P.O. Box 1980, Oakdale, CA 95361.


To follow Bey’s progress, as well as other recuses at the facility, follow them on Facebook at Oakdale Equine Rescue.