Monday, September 17, 2012

105 How Many More?

What does a home made brand with a number 105, on a horse's hip mean? 

This is what I think from my experience with this type of mare over the years. It means there were many more horses than her at the Premarin farm she was living at. I shouldn't really use the word living, I should stay existing at. An average Premarin farm holds 200 mares and has 2 workers. The mares stand in straight small holding areas for over  6 months a years or more, unable to move forward, backwards or lay down. They also are hooked to a catheter so the urine is collected continually. They are given 1/3 of a normal water intake so the mares are constantly thirsty. This make the urine mare concentrated.  Did I mention these mares are pregnant? Yes, Premarin is PREgnant-MARe-urINe. PREMARIN! 
No way for a horse to exist 24 hours a day...and pregnant.( from

This drug has been used for woman with menopause symptoms since the late 1940's but it was never tested until the early 2000. In 2002, a landmark Women's Health Initiative  (WHI) study provided compelling evidence the hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is linked to breast cancer, ovarian cancer, lung cancer and other diseases including heart disease. After this study came out, the Premarin use in the USA dramatically decreased and the market was flooded with these mares and foals. 

This article was in the AJC 1/2/2004

Drug maker's cutbacks send 20,000 horses to auction block
Bill Hendrick - Staff
Friday, January 2, 2004

A decision made in a sterile, glass-and-chrome pharmaceutical
laboratory in New Jersey might affect horse barns in Georgia and other states.

Pills produced by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals that use chemicals
extracted from the urine of pregnant horses to ease menopausal symptoms for
women have come under fire in recent months, causing the market to crash.

The drop in sales has forced the company to decide to cut its
horse herds, leaving at least 20,000 horses at risk for slaughter.

An auction of hundreds of these horses is being held Saturday in
Roanoke, Ala., just across the Georgia border, 26 miles from LaGrange.

In July, federal researchers said hormone replacement therapy, or
HRT, was potentially harmful to tens of millions of post-menopausal women who
had taken the drugs.

And later, a study of Prempro, another drug that uses ingredients
from horse urine, was halted earlier than scheduled. Researchers found the
chemicals seemed to increase risks of breast cancer, stroke and blood clots ---
outweighing the benefits of lessening colon cancer and osteoporosis.

The result: A significant decline in orders for Prempro, from 3.4
million to 1 million, and a crash in sales of Premarin, a top-selling HRT drug,
from 6 million to 3.5 million, said Natalie De Vane, spokeswoman for Wyeth
Pharmaceuticals of Madison, N.J.

The company's sales of HRT products dropped by 33 percent, to $1.1
billion, in the first three quarters of 2003.

In response, the company has fired some of its horse ranchers.
Wyeth used to contract with 400 ranches in Canada and North Dakota, but within
the past month, it has cut that number by 25 percent.

That leaves a national glut of horses for sale --- not nags, but
healthy animals whose owners "milked" them for urine.

Farmers are trying to sell the excess female horses, called mares,
and their babies, called foals, because it costs too much to feed and graze

De Vane said the company is trying to help the ranchers find "good
homes" for these horses. And equestrian experts say most of the animals are
strong and suitable for adoption.

Quarter horses are the most common breed found on Wyeth's ranches.
The next most popular, Percherons and Belgians, are said to be valued for their
gentle dispositions. Most of the horses up for auction are between 3 and 8 years

Even so, horse activists say the reality is most of those horses
are not going to find homes, and are instead likely to be slaughtered.

The Humane Society of the United States said that "equine
sanctuaries and rescue group facilities are already filled to capacity" and
can't absorb an influx of thousands of horses. "Most of them will inevitably end
up at slaughterhouses," according to a statement released this week.

Cheryl Flanagan, who runs a group called Save the Horses in
Cumming (save, and Shana Wingate, who heads Just in Time Equine
Rescue in Douglasville (groups.msn .com/wingatefarms), are concerned that if
horse lovers don't show up at the auction Saturday in Alabama, most of the
animals will end up dead.

The women say they are planning to buy some of the horses and put
them up for adoption.

Both women operate nonprofit groups aimed at saving horses from
early deaths and are part of a network of similar organizations nationwide.

But Don Green, who is running the auction and is owner of Roanoke
Stockyards, does not believe the adult horses are in danger.

"I don't think one will go to slaughter. They are well-bred. Some
will be bought to ride," he said. However, Green added: "I don't think you'd
want these for a pet, or a child. You're not going to find any Seabiscuit."

He expects 400 or so horses will be sold for prices between $500
and $1,250.

Green does acknowledge that the foals are at high risk because
they are not immediately useful to riders or ranchers.

The controversy could also stretch across the ocean, to the china
plates of European restaurants, where horse meat is served.

Europeans have been buying more horse meat since mad cow disease
was discovered two weeks ago in the United States, Flanagan and Wingate said.

We managed to get publicity on CNN, ABC and CBS, too. Every horse at that auction was bought by a caring person. There are usually about 40 people attending the auction but it was over filled with about 350 people. They even had to put a TV outside so people could see. Horses went for $750 - $3500. The auctioneer was from TX and he told me earlier in the week that he planned on taking most of the mares to TX, I am sure for meat. There was a full running horse slaughter plant near him. That motivated me to do even more. 

Some of the foals we cared for until they were released. 
The market was also flooded with PMU foals. We took in 26 youngsters in June of 2004 to help another rescue, AC4H. The foals were coming from a PMU farm in North Dakota en route to Florida.   Over stuffed in a trailer, stressed from the ride, they all had the Strangles virus. They stayed for over 4 months in a quarantined area under the supervision of GDA. 

Now Back To Destiny!
Sandy giving Destiny some loving.

She was saved more than once. She was saved from a PMU farm sometime in her life. She ended up as a Craigslist post. There may have been a few years in between that were good or bad. 

 A family wanted an older safe horse for their grandchild. They saw the Craigslist ad and went to meet #105. She wasn't at all what they expected. She was big but very underweight and a bit strong to handle. Surely not what the grandchild could handle at all. The owner assured them there was someone coming who wanted a plow horse. She could go to work and earn her keep.  They couldn't turn their back on her though so they took her home. They called SaveTheHorses looking for help. I picked her up Saturday and she already has some cheerleaders! She needs a special diet to gain some weight and lots of love which she has no trouble getting here at the rescue farm. I did bring a sweet older mare, Caraway,  to the people who took in Destiny. The grand daughter may fall in love with Caraway or may want Destiny back when she's healthier. We just want Destiny safe and loved. 

Are horses born with a destiny? Are they destined to be slaughtered? To be someone's loving pet? To become a work animal without love?  I am afraid their lives are ruled by chance. She is a lucky one saved by a kindhearted person who couldn't walk away from her. Can we change the destiny of horses? Yes, we can. Together we can change the destiny of the horses we come in contact with and support. 

If you can't adopt, Foster.
If you can't foster, Donate.
If you can't donate, Volunteer. 
If you can't volunteer, educate everyone about the 'destiny' of horses and how it can go wrong without caring , compassionate humans like you helping in some way!
Thank you for all you do! 


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Roy At Peace

I went out Saturday night to feed Sweetie like I do every night. I like to know she is OK before I go to sleep. She is 34 and if she falls down, she can't get up without the help of our sling and tractor. While I do this, Roy, Annabelle and whatever horses stayed in the barn also get an extra helping of feed and treats. 

I have been doing this for a few years now. Since Roy had his spinning problem in late September of 2010, it has been even more important. Roy walked out of the barn late that night, walked about 20 feet from the barn door and started spinning to the left. He couldn't stop. I eased him into the covered ring since it has a sand base, I thought if he falls hard, at least he would land on soft sand. I stayed with him. I was happy he slowly eased himself down. He laid there for about an hour and he looked very comfortable. He then got up walked away and several times a day for the next few weeks, he would start to spin again. I have a vet come out who said she believes he injured his hip. We gave him anti inflammatory medications for a few days but no change. I asked another vet who thought it was heart syncope causing it. As it slowed down a little, Roy learned to lean against a pole to not spin and keep his balance. Another vet came out and thought it may be a brain tumor. He said Roy is not a good candidate to go for an MRI and sedating him could kill him. I felt like this diagnosis may be the closest to the problem because he only spun to the left and he developed a small spot on his left eye. They vet said the spot didn't have any thing to do with it but I truly believed it did. So now if he does have a brain tumor, what to do? How can we fix it? The vet gave me some antibiotics and little hope.  
Roy laying in the sun napping next to his old girlfriend, Sapphire. 

So many people knew Roy, he had been here 8 years. A big, golden Belgium draft horse stands out in everyone's mind. People came from everywhere to say good bye to him. We were facing a decision so hard to make. Picking a date and time to die, to end a life. We all work so hard rescuing horses is to save their life. This part was the saddest thing anyone could do, a decision not taken easily. It weights heavy on your heart. 

A volunteer, Libby, told me she was giving a dog the spice, turmeric, which has been known to shrink tumors, and suggested I try it on Roy. How could it hurt? What was there to lose? It was actually hope, hope it could help Roy live longer. We started with a tablespoon and eventually increased it to 6 tablespoons a day. It worked like miracle. Roy's spinning slowly stopped for nearly two years. Turmeric gave us more time to love Roy. About  a month, ago, Roy started to walk and turn around a little more often. I did increase the turmeric and prayed it wasn't happening and getting worse. 
You can see where Roy was circling.

I saw a few more signs of Roy spinning. It not have been noticed by anyone else but I saw places in the gravel where Roy was spinning. I pointed it out to some of the volunteers, I think in my heart, I was preparing everyone, including myself, that this was close to the end. 

Early this morning, I walked into the barn to make sure Sweetie was OK. I saw Roy laying in the shaving pile, his favorite place to rest. He looked comfortable. I did notice his eyes were opened. I walked over to him, waved my hand in from of his eye. no reaction. Then I called him, he couldn't hear well anymore so I was louder and louder. I patted his leg and moved it, still no reaction. Was Roy gone? I was not grasping this at all. I walked all the way back into the house and I kept thinking, he is just sleeping. My mind was recalling Roy's almost 10 years at the rescue and all the people who love him. I had to go back in the barn to confirm my crazy thoughts.   I was mistaken, yes, I surely hoped I was. 

Sadly, I was right. Roy had died peacefully in the place I have seen him lay down for many years. He was gone. 

Albert being comforted as he lays on tarp covering Roy's body.
Everyone is sad but we all agreed he died in peace. He was given a cross to be buried with, he was given love and blessings by everyone. We will buy him this afternoon in a nice place where he can look over the farm. Our heart aches for Roy but it also aches for Albert, our Nubian Goat. He was Roy's stall mate and companion for many years.  Roy was covered with a tarp in the barn.  Albert is laying on the tarp, almost on Roy's lifeless body. Albert is going to take this hard. He cried for his blind horse friend, Stevie Wonder, over 6 years ago when Stevie died at UGA. Albert mourns. Albert stood outside the barn and cried for a few months, crying for Stevie. I know it will hurt all the volunteers to know Roy is gone but will be so hard to see Albert mourning along with them. 

This is a blog from when Roy started spinning.

Our banner with our lovely Roy.
Rest In Peace Sweet Roy.