Why Rescue a PMU?

By Debra Naismith

About 2 years ago I volunteered at United Pegasus. This is a rescue facility for Thoroughbreds, PMU’s and abandoned and neglected horses. My intentions were to assist with care of these horses after rescue. However, after hearing the true story about the PMU drug (for example Premarin) business, I had to get more involved. I was so unaware of the massive slaughter taking place both in Canada and right here in the United States. Did you know that people eat horse meat? Do you know that there actually are thriving horse slaughter houses here in the US?! My experience was overwhelming.

Bailey Anne
Bailey Anne then…

I was cleaning around the facility for most of the day and talking to the other workers. A young Belgian horse was lying down taking a nap at the back of the paddock. I approached her quietly and bent down to pet her. She made no attempt to move and enjoyed my touch. I got up and went on cleaning. I felt a nudge on my back and turned to see the young Belgian. I patted her on the head and went back to work. She followed me around for the rest of the time I was there. I asked the manager of the facility why the Belgian was so friendly. She said she did not know much about her. She really tugged at my heart and became mine. She had picked me. I named her Bailey Anne. She is the light of my life. She was five months old when I adopted her and barely halter broken. I took her home and started my exciting journey. My trainer committed to helping me for one year, but she wasn’t able to help much the first couple months. Here I was with a young horse and I knew nothing about babies. Thank goodness the draft breed is so gentle and kind. I was able to bond with her and started working on her feet and brushing her. She is now 2 years old. What an awesome adventure this has been.

I am a huge advocate of drafts. They are kind and gentle. Although they are very large horses they are not intimidating. They are very logical with challenges as they face them. A spook for a draft might be a small flick of the ear. As an example, we had a large wind storm one day when Bailey was about 9 months old. I was hand walking her down a drive way. The owners of the facility had covered a tree with plastic. The wind picked up the plastic and it blew up behind me and landed on Bailey and myself. She spooked, jumping forward. She was breathing hard but stood firm. My quarter horse would have ended up in another county. I find with their temperament draft horses often evaluate before reacting. Their fear reactions are much less than other breeds.

Now, back to the thought of rescues. Please - RESCUE A HORSE!

Premarin is a very profitable hormone drug used in hormone replacement therapy - which we now know increases the risks of breast cancer, stroke, heart attacks, blood clots, and more. (See NHM Volume 8, Issue 3 - To the Rescue.) Despite these findings and their public release, Premarin is still a widely prescribed pill for the treatment of women’s menopause symptoms. This drug, sometimes (misleadingly) referred to as 'natural', is made by extracting the hormone from pregnant mares’ urine. Yes, I said urine. The pregnant mares - tens of thousands of them - are tied for weeks at a time with a collector device attached to them to get the urine. Before they are ready to deliver their babies they are put back out to pasture. Four to six months later, all the babies - tens of thousands, of course - are rounded up, once every year, usually around October, to clear out the farms before winter, and are sent to sale barns and auctions. Most go to slaughter. Most of the mares who are no longer 'productive' also go to slaughter.

Bailey Anne now
and Bailey Anne now, with Debra Naismith

How can we let this happen? How can the drug manufacturers do this? I am told these foals are a 'byproduct'. My horse was a 'byproduct', saved from a sure death. These drug manufacturers are responsible for this, while they profit immensely from it.

Do you know that horse meat (including foal meat) is sold in Europe as a delicacy? Do you know that foal hides are called 'pony skins', out of which accessories and garments are made? We allow this? How cruel can we be? I have seen many pictures of these babies, after the auction, exhausted and frightened, overwhelmed from the stress. I have since adopted another PMU. If I could, I would fill my property with all it could hold. Until we can educate all Premarin prescribers and users about its harms to women and horses, and stop this problem at its source, I strive every day to make people aware of this situation. Please know that this endless 'production' and resulting slaughter needs to be stopped. How can we buy or breed a horse when all of these babies and mares need to be rescued NOW? I cannot. If you are interested in looking into adoption please see www.unitedpegasus.com and www.hopeforhorses.com. They have several locations around the country and I highly recommend them. Their heart is in the right place. Also visit www.liveandletlive.org. If you are interested in learning more about my journey, visit my website, www.passionhorse.com. I have many pictures of the progress of my babies.

About the author:
Debra Naismith is from Triangle Lake Oregon. She is married to Jeff and has two grown children Rhiannon and Justin. She has 8 horses, 3 dogs and one cat. She runs a small rescue for horses with the generous help of Michelle Yossi.