The self-titled "Montana Horselogger" pulled into Corvallis on his draft horse-drawn wagon to seek medical care for a head injury to one of his trio of draft horses.
The horses' owner, who calls himself Lee the Horse Logger on his website, declined to provide his last name on Tuesday, but he has been identified in newspaper articles from across the nation as Lee Crafton of the Billings area.
After giving up horse logging about four years ago, he has been traveling the nation in a camp wagon drawn by the horses, and many local newspapers have written of his travels, which have covered an estimated 8,500 miles.
Crafton made the journey to Corvallis after a veterinarian suggested that he visit the veterinary college at Oregon State University to get low-cost, first-rate care for the ailing horse.
Crafton said Tuesday that he was camping when a passing veterinarian looked at the horse, " ... and he told me, ‘You need to go to OSU and have them look at it.'"
The Lois Bates Acheson Veterinary Teaching Hospital is providing care for the draft horse, which is named Tom.
Diana Care, the fourth-year student at the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine, is treating the horse. She said Tom suffers from a lesion irritated by his horse's bridle. ("It's) a common injury from the olden days," she said. Horses were used to drag felled trees from logging sites.
The spot behind Tom's ear has become chronically infected, and it is difficult to treat because veterinarians can't surgically remove the infected tissue without putting the horse out of commission until he heals.
"If I do any extensive surgery in the area, he's not going to let anyone near him with a bridle," said Dr. Jill Parker, an associate professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine and a board-certified large-animal surgeon who is working with the horse.
Aside from the head injury, Crafton's three Suffolk Punch-breed horses are fine. "They're really well cared-for," Care said.
And although the ailing horse clearly is likely to benefit from his time in Corvallis, so are OSU veterinary students, she said: "This is the only (injury of this type) we'll see in a year or two." Draft animals suffered from such injuries in pre-motorized era, and they still do in developing countries.
Parker said it's important for veterinary students to see such injuries so they can recognize and treat them, but the treatment isn't cheap. The surgery to repair the horse's chronic infection could cost between $2,000 and $4,000.
Crafton already has received a donation to help with the cost of the horse's treatment, and a sign that invites people to donate to his Pay Pal (on his website at LeeHorseLogger.com) could bring more help.
Crafton said he plans to stay in Corvallis until his ailing horse "is ready to travel." He and his two other horses - a mare and a stallion - are camped in the parking lot next to Magruder Hall.
Hank Kemper, a supervisor in OSU's Transit and Parking Services, said there is no parking permit required to use any of the student or visitor parking lot spaces between academic terms, such as the one Lee is using. Camping, however, is a trickier issue to tackle.
"We don't allow overnight camping in most cases," Kemper said. "We kind of take it as a case-by-case basis."