“There is a touch of divinity even in brutes, and a special halo about a horse, that should forever exempt him from indignities.” – Herman Melville.
The horse symbolizes unbridled personal freedom, and is a spiritual brother within the Native American culture. To celebrate the horse, Encanto Pet Clinic recognizes the National Day of the Horse on December 13th. The 10-year-old resolution, passed by Senator Bill Campbell of Colorado, includes this passage: “Whereas horses are a vital part of the collective experience of the United States and deserve protection and compassion.”
But some of North America’s horses are still being used to produce a hormone prescribed to millions of menopausal women in the United States. The drug, called Premarin is an estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) or hormone replacement therapy (HRT) drug, and is created with the urine of pregnant mares. The mares are kept in small stalls during their pregnancies and wear bladder bags that collect their urine. When they are about to deliver, they are turned out to have their foals, then rebred and again confined to stalls. The foals, a “by-product” of the Premarin industry, are sold – primarily to slaughterhouses. But some foals are rescued by humane organizations and ultimately adopted.
Karen Pomroy, president and founder of Green Valley-based Equine Voices Rescue and Sanctuary™, rescued Gulliver, Spanky, Deuce and Bella in 2004, after moving to Arizona with two of her own horses. Gulliver had been deemed too “big and ugly” to have a chance at adoption – so he was at great risk of being sold to a slaughterhouse Today, he is the mascot of Pomroy’s 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to saving Premarin(PMU) mares and foals. Gulliver and his Gulliver’s Fan Club helps educate the public about the lives of horses within the Premarin industry.
Demand for Premarin has decreased in the last few years, and Pomroy says that many PMU farms have closed. “As these farms close, mares and foals are in need of homes, otherwise their fate would be slaughter for human consumption. Equine Voices has worked with the same farmer over the past 8 years and still has 18 mares in Canada that we support.”
Pomroy often works with other rescue groups to save, transport and find homes for PMU horses. “Our last rescue was in collaboration with two other groups, which together we saved dozens of mares and 15 foals. Equine Voices took seven of the foals, and all others were saved. Each situation is different, however, we will take those that are at the highest risk, depending on space.”
As National Day of the Horse is celebrating its 10th year of existence, so is Equine Voices. The organization recently purchased 5 additional acres, and are in the process of creating the Equine Voices Adoption and Training Center. Gulliver and the three other original PMU rescue foals still reside at the sanctuary. Equine Voices was featured on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, was a part of the book “Horse Sanctuary” and was featured in the magazine, National Geographic for Kids.
So how can the Encanto Pet Clinic readers help? Pomroy says there are many opportunities to volunteer at the sanctuary, and are presently looking for vendors and volunteers for their Holiday Open House, held on December 13th. A list of needs is available on the organization’s web site, and food sponsors are always needed for the older horses. Fundraising is an ongoing challenge for the organization.
“Sponsoring a horse is a great way to support Equine Voices without taking a horse home,” explains Pomroy. “For $50/month, an individual can sponsor a horse. They will receive a photo and their story and a yearly update on their horse. If an individual sponsors for a full year, they will receive a beautiful horsehair keychain.”
Tatiana is a former PMU mare and resident of Equine Voices Sanctuary. Her foal, Skye, was born at the Sanctuary and is currently being trained to ready him for adoption. He is a sweet-natured 8-year-old black and white Percheron Draft Cross. Visit the adoption page for more information on adopting or sponsoring a horse.
Please call the Encanto Pet Clinic staff if you have any questions or concerns about your pet, or if you would like to help Equine Voices. Our team of veterinarians and staff can help you begin the conversation with Equine Voices.