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Lady, the Premarin Mare

Story ID:1422
Written by:Suzana Margaret Megles (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Period Piece
Location:rural North Dakota USA
Year:2006
Person:Suzana
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Lady, the Premarin Mare

Lady, a Premarin Mare living on a Canadian "farm" somewhere in western Canada (or North Dakota) was let out of a large barn after being confined there from September to March or April. Her home with all the other mares for 6-7 months was not a spacious barn with stalls and straw where one could easily lay down one's pregnant body. No, this barn was called a collection barn where these pregnant mares were tethered in narrow stalls with rubber cups positioned over their vulvas to collect the urine flow. The urine collection harness is not very hygienic for the mares because it allows their urine to soak the skin of the vulva sometimes causing infection and painful lesions. And the tether and collection apparatus often does not allow the mare to turn around or take more than a step or two in any direction. In my opinion, even murderous felons have more freedom of movement than these poor mares.

Being off line to foal in the outside paddocks made Lady feel giddy with happiness. It might not be heaven she thought but it was a wonderful release from that horrible barn, its "pee" line, the smells, the confinement, the burning urine on her vulva. She could now stretch her almost atrophied legs and look up to see the blue sky instead of a barn's dark cheerless ceiling and she could breathe in as much fresh air as she possibly could before they take her back into that dark, dreary, airless, and confining barn. She could munch on the delicious green grass to her heart's content. Again she thought - not heaven but close.

Now Lady was in her 11th month of gestation. She was exhibiting the signs of soon to be birthing. She began pacing her paddock area, back and forth. Sometimes she pawed the ground anxiously and her udders were now full of milk to the point of dripping down her legs. Lady was now 12-36 hours from giving birth. She was also urinating constantly and she even made a face which showed she was having pain -her upper lip curled over and head high.

I guess girving birth for either species -human or animal is not easy and all benefit from help in this birthing process. With her ruptured water bag, the birth process started for Lady. Her foal's feet came first as happens in an uncomplicated labor and the caregivers assisted her by pulling on the foal's legs. At last the foal is out - a beautiful filly we will name Lily. The helpers move away so that Lady can begin to remove the birth sack and clean Lily. Soon a tired but happy Lady is up to graze and watch while her wobbly newborn is still "getting her legs."

New life is always a joyous occasion, but sadly the wonder of this new life will
all too soon be forgotten by Lady with the realization of what lies ahead for both of them in the near future. These wondrous months of bonding and feeding Lily are fast coming to an end. If animals can talk I imagine that this conversation happened between Lady and Lily.

One day after Lily has received her fill of her mother's delicious milk, she notices that her mother has become sad and introspective. She asks her mother "Why are you so sad? You have been so happy these last 4 months, but now I notice that something is wrong. What is it?"

Lady: "I have been dreading this time. I will have to tell you about our future lives. I wish that I could say that you and I will find happiness with an owner who will take us from this horrible place to one which will give us a sense of well-being and security --a place where we can live our lives as any loved horse should.
We should be able to run freely in sunny pastures. We should experience the
joy and exhilaration of riders -young or old who want to enjoy the pleasure
of sitting on our backs to get the best rides of their lives. Even young people with psychological or medical illness often benefit from association with us. But no, this won't happen. Instead I will go back to the collection barn."

Lily: " What is a collection barn, mother?"

Lady: " Those buildings yonder are collection barns and that's the place I "lived" for 6-7 months while carrying you. They strapped a cup under my vulva to collect my urine. They never gave me as much water as I wanted because they wanted my urine to be concentrated for pill production. I was only allowed out to give birth to you and start you off in life. I am pregnant again because soon after I delivered you, they impregnated me again. The cycle never stops. I am treated more like a machine than a living mare with feelings and needs."

Lily: " Oh mother, how horrible, Will that happen to me when I grow up too?"

Lady: "I'm afraid so unless the good news I've been hearing is true. They spoke of a research protocul which was done in 2002 where one group of women received Premarin/Prempro and the other group a placebo. Imagine - some of the women who received our urine pills were not doing well at all. The researchers decided to stop the test immediately. Finally, there may be light at
at the end of the tunnel for us, Lily. I have heard that the pharmaceutical is closing down some of the premarin farms because now less and less women are using our horse's urine as an HRT treatment. Instead they are wisely finding alternative natural aids. So, maybe Lily, MAYBE you will never have to stand in the "pee" line. Please God may that be so."

And so we leave this sad mare and her foal. Had she given birth to a colt, he probably would have been sent to slaughter after being fattened up and then sold to the foreign meat markets of Europe.

Lady too would probably end up the same way after she becomes old and "unproductive." For those of us who think all these "pee" barns should be dismantled and all the mares be freed - it is our profoundest wish. We never bought into the idea that we should ingest a foreign substance into our bodies, for any reason whatsoever if it would be at the expense of animal suffering.

Epilogue: Because the 2002 study by the National Institutes of Health determined these HRT therapies can lead to an increased risk of strokes in women, thousands of mares and foals, most from Canada and North Dakota are no longer useful to the farmers and ranchers who managed them. As a result many of the mares and their foals are being shipped overseas to countries such as Belgium and Russia for human consumption. This is not our idea of being
"freed."

This never would have happened but because of the stealth amendment Republican lame duck Conrad Burns of Montana slipped into an appropriation bill in 2005. This amendment allows for the slaughter of horses in the US. Before this "Wild Horse Annie" had campaigned tirelessly to protect horses from mistreatment and slaughter. The HSUS and other animal welfare organizations are working to protect our horses again with the Horse Slaughter Protection Act. It passed the House but was not voted on in the last days of the 2006 Senate because of guess who? Yes, I believe it was the same Senator Conrad Burns who prevented it from coming to vote as the Senate recessed for Christmas. Well, thankfully, his voice will not be heard in the 110th Congress.

When one compassionate lady - Karen Pomroy heard about the slaughter of the Premarin mares, her anger spurred her into action. In 2004 she founded "Equine Voice" and buys horses she brings to her 10 acre sanctuary tucked beneath the Santa Rita Mountains near Tuscon. This rescue/care operation is expensive and Karen depends on volunteer help and contributions. Why doesn't the giant pharmaceutical help with a problem it created? The answer should be obvious.

However, Karen, though overwhelmed with this task she took upon herself, would have it no other way. She said: "Sometimes I get a little discouraged because I look at the ground and think I'm this little pebble in this whole speck of the industry. There's 25,000 horses just in this industry alone going to slaughter. What difference am I making? I've saved maybe 115, 110 this year. But then I look and say, 'I've saved 110.' And I come out here and see their faces and they're the ones that keep me going."

Karen reminds me of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. When confronted by a skeptic reporter who compared her beginning efforts to a drop in the ocean - she answered that it was true, but that many drops make up the ocean. Karen, I am sure that Mother Teresa would have approved of your "drops" in the ocean. I also believe that a loving Creator is pleased as well. Stewardship implies loving care. Those Premarin mares were not given loving care. In my opinion, they were used and abused.

The small picture above shows the "by products" of Premarin/Prempro. These mares and foals will go through the gates and be slaughtered.