Sunday, February 14, 2010

PMU Mares

Chances are, if you are a menopausal woman or have had a hysterectomy, you have probably heard of the  drug called Premarin.  Maybe you are currently taking it, or have taken it in the past.  If not, it is likely you know a woman who has been on it (maybe your mother or grandmother) because reportedly,  from 1975 to 1999, Premarin was the most prescribed drug in America.
Premarin (including Prempro, Premphase, Prempac, and Premelle) is a drug put out in many forms (pills, creams, injections, patches, vaginal rings) and is used to reduce the symptoms of menopause in women or women who have had a hysterectomy. Premarin was one of the first drugs available when hormonal therapy for menopause was introduced in 1946.  It has also been  prescribed to eliminate the risk of osteoporosis .
Premarin® stands for Pregnant Mares' Urine (PREgnant MARes' urINe).  
Yes, Premarin is made up of conjugated estrogens obtained from the urine of pregnant mares.
To produce Premarin, PMU mares are impregnated and during the last 6 months of the pregnancy they are fitted with a UCD  (urine collection device) strapped between their hind legs.  For this 6 month collection period, they are  forced to stand in a small stall, usually no bigger than 8 feet long, by 3 1/2 feet wide.  Many PMU mares are large breeds like draft crosses because the larger breeds produce more urine.  In this very confined space, they cannot walk more than a few steps in any direction.  There is barely enough room for them to  lie down.   Their water intake is limited so the urine will be more concentrated.

pmu-2 photo source: the Internet

Just before foaling, PMU mares are taken "off line" and allowed to foal in outside paddocks.   Within six months of a successful breeding, they are returned to the PMU production line again.  Mares that do not become pregnant within a very short time are usually sent to auction or straight to the slaughterhouse.

pmu4photo source: the Internet

PMU mares are basically baby machines that are impregnated as often as possible, and for as long as possible, sometimes for more than 10 years straight.   The foals of the mares are considered a by-product of the business and are taken from their mothers when they are  2-4 months old instead of the normal 6 months.  Foals removed from the mare are sometimes fattened on feedlots and then sold for slaughter. The ones not sent to feedlots go straight to the meat auctions, or are sold to resale agents. A small number are sold by foal rescue operations to mostly U.S. rescue organizations.
Since research has proven that estrogen increases the chances  of cancer in women, there has been a decline in the production of Premarin. By 2003, sales of Premarin plummeted 30% from their high in 1999 and have continued to do so as more and more studies linked the drug to life threatening ailments and women have been made more aware of these studies. 
As promising as this sounds for ending the barbaric treatment of PMU mares and slaughter of their foals, my research for this post revealed other HRT (hormone replacement therapy) drugs are in development that would still use the urine of pregnant mares.
Nevertheless, many PMU ranches are being closed, leaving thousands of  PMU mares from  Canadian and North Dakota farms to find new homes or face an uncertain fate.
My daughter recently adopted a PMU mare who came from a  North Dakota PMU farm.
Jolie is a 10 year old draft/paint cross.  Look at that face!  Isn’t she beautiful?  She’s in need of a good grooming but that will have to come in time.
IMG_1125 (2)
The  rescue agency handling Jolie’s adoption assured my daughter Jolie was  “halter broke,” meaning she was trained to lead and tie obediently.  Unfortunately this does not appear to be the case at all.  In essence, Jolie is basically wild.  She will not yet allow anyone to get close enough to touch her so she would not voluntarily submit to allow a halter to be placed on her.  On the positive side,  she has started to eat a little grain from my daughter’s hand and she is beginning to let my daughter stand next to her. 
To complicate matters, Jolie is “in foal” and should deliver sometime in the next 2 or 3 months.  If she does not gain some trust in people before then, it is possible she might not allow anyone to handle her foal either. 
Without a doubt, my daughter has her work cut out for her.  Much patience and training will be needed to help Jolie  overcome her PMU mare past.
Obviously, not everyone has the ability or desire to  adopt a PMU mare or a PMU foal but you can still help their plight  by educating  yourself and others about the mistreatment of horses used for the manufacture of Premarin® or other HRT drugs using pregnant mares urine.
If you are using Premarin, why not talk to your doctor about trying one of the many synthetic and non PMU organic alternative estrogen-replacement drugs and spare the horses like Jolie?



IMG_1123 (C&E)


Shelia said...

Oh, Shari, what a post! I had to admit, I took Premarin for about 3 years. I did know it was from mares but didn't know all of this. I did hear all of the bad news about it and worked myself off it. I'm so ashamed I didn't realize at the time that I didn't ask to try something else.
I hope that beautiful horse can learn to allow your daughter to handle her. She is a gorgeous horse.
Thanks for all this info.
Hope you've had a nice Valentine's Day,
shelia ;)

The Green Pea said...

Oh my! I have had horses all of my live and never new there was such a thing for the poor mares. I would think that the mare would have been handled more too. I hope your daughter is safe with her. She is pretty big. What a nice thing to adopt her. I hope all goes well with her and her new foal. sandi

Happy To Be/ Gl♥ria said...

How truly sad this is Shari...I for one did not know this...What a beauty jolie is and if anyone can bring her around it's your daughter with her love of horses..That poor thing...Happy Valentine's day to you my dear friend...Hugs and smiles Gl♥ria

Robin's Nesting Place said...

This is a fascinating post. It is amazing what blind faith we have in the pharmaceutical industry.

I hope that Jolie will learn to trust your daughter before her little foal is born!

Maureen said...

I pray for Jolie, her foal and your daughter. How heartbreaking.

Anonymous said...
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DianeH said...

God Bless you for sharing this. As
shown by the few comments above mine that it just takes women becoming aware of this to make changes. There are alternatives to PMU medications - ask your doctors! We are the one's taking these med's and we are the one's who can make this horrific practice stop.

Adrienne said...

This is a great post - we should all know about this! I didn't know that the Premarin I have taken for several years was from horses until my new doctor told me two weeks ago, and I didn't know how it was produced until your post today. My doctor moved me to another drug that is not produced by horses. I'm finding good beneifts from it - and now I'm SO glad I'm no longer taking Premarin.

Hoping Jolie learns to trust and that her foal will come into the world trusting, too.

Lottie said...

I was totally unaware of what the horse had to go through to make this drug. Thank you this post! It is amazing what humans do to animals just for money. It makes me shudder to think about this industry. Hope things work out with Jolie!

Simple Dimple Primitives said...

Thank you for posting this- as difficult as it is to read- it is so important for women {everyone for that matter} to be education on the abuse these wonderful animals are put under.
We have friends who own a horse rescue- so we are certainly kept up to date on the horrible treatment that is out there- yet, we hear and see so many happy endings. Bless your daughter for taking on such a mission! I love it!
When Jolie permits your daughter to get close- give her an extra hug from me....and give you daughter one as well. : )


Sylvia said...

God bless your daughter for adopting this beautiful mare.

Sandy~Romantique Inspirations~ said...

What a terrible thing - Sometimes I wish I had some money so I can adopt animals that are in need to care for them. I am so happy that your daughter rescued this horse.

Woman should be taking Bio - Identical Hormones not synthetic anyways.... don't always believe what your doctor wants to give you.... always investigate the matter before taking anything. My Sister takes the natural stuff for she had everything removed because she had endometriosis real bad. Suzanne Summers has a book about all this stuff and it's quite interesting concerning menopause.

Thanks Shari for putting this out!

Ceekay- Thinkin of Home said...

Hi Sherrie...I hope all goes well with your daughers new horse. Our dog had a bad life and was scared of everything...but with enough love, he is coming along...hope the same works for the horse.

Cindy said...

Shari, It is unbelievable what people will do to animals for profit. I know I have heard of some horrific stories recently in Manitoba, during the flood of the Red River. We are just north of ND, so sad to know it is happening.
Hugs, Cindy S.

Pink Roses and Teacups said...

Hi Shari,

This is a very interesting post. I had no idea they did this kind of thing. I hope the horse allows Kelly to touch her soon. Poor animals. :(

Shellbelle said...

Kudos to you Shari for such an informative post on PMU mares and kudos to your daughter for adopting Jolie.

I love blogging and seeing everyone's recipes, decor, crafts and such, but then you come across a post such as this and realize the power we hold to also inform when something isn't right and this isn't right!

I was very lucky and sailed through menopause naturally. A few years later I was told I needed a hysterectomy and I insisted they leave my ovaries. I have never taken any drugs and that was five years ago. I think many women just trust what the doctor says and you've proved that we need to take an active role in our medical care and ask questions, especially when it comes to surgery and drugs!

Bunny Jeans Decor... and More! said...

Sheri, I became a vegetarian last month in part because of reading a blog. Not only did it reveal the mistreatment of animals, but that the animals are not even healthy.

Their diet is not what nature intended and they are full of antibotics and hormones. In most cases they can't even excercise.

So if they are not healthy then how can the meat we eat be healthy?

Here is the link to her blog. She is not a radical... she just shares some links to get the information out.

Thanks for coming by to visit me the other day. I have enjoyed reading your blog.

Talk to you soon ;)
Bunny Jean

Bunny Jeans Decor... and More! said...

Hi again,
I just tested out her link and you will actually need to go to her main blog (all about the beautiful slipcovers she makes) and then to the sidebar and click to her other blog "Did You Know". Again, her blog is not pushy nor graphic.

Bunny Jean

kiakai/Kelly @ Much To Do With Nothing said...

Hi Shari,
Thank you for this post. I had heard about this a couple of years ago. I never knew the details. I saw Bunny Jean told you about my blog for animals. I posted something about the Dairy Industry. You know the cows are treated exactly like these horses, only for their milk not urine. Their babies are taken away at birth. The mother moos and cries for a week, wondering what happened to him. Some are killed hours after birth and used in TV dinners. Others end up in veal crates for 18 weeks before slaughter. I watched a calf video. It was degrading and heartbreaking. Within weeks the mother is impregnated again, to start the process all over again. Until she's "spent" and slaughtered. Just like the horses.

There's a special place in heaven for your family for adopting that horse.
You can read about my posts by clicking the "Puppy Picture" on my blog. There's a couple of yummy vegetarian recipes in there too!
God bless your daughter for hearing their cries.

mwonderland said...

My husband and I rescued a PMU mare and her most recent baby in 2007. They had been stuffed into an eighteen wheeler with 23 other draft mares with foals and shipped from Canada to a sale barn in Madisonville, Texas. The news they were arriving had traveled through the equine community in central Texas so the horses were all adopted - saved from the truck's next stop at a Mexican slaughterhouse.
Our first chalange was to load them into the trailer to get them home. After years of dealing with cranky horses and unpredictable longhorns - this experience topped any I'd had, but we were successful and got them home without mishap. So Flora (our big beautiful Belgian) and Beebe (her red baby girl) began our journey together. I could only imagine what lay ahead for us both as we began the S-L-O-W process of learning trust.
PMU horses are worse than wild - they are Terrified of humans. It is much easier to gentle a wild mustang that's never been around humans. These poor girls experienced the WORST treatment humans could dish out and transmitted that terror to their foals!
I am not a horse trainer but was taught "Horse" by my wonderfully trained Tennessee Walker, and he also helped me teach them - first to trust then to love.
Seven years later I am still the only person Flora trusts. While she's not the best ride in my barn - she's definitely a show stopper and likes to ride in parades! Beebe has turned out to be an excellent trail riding horse - and LOVES children. I can truly say they have given us as much as we've given them and our "Forever Home" together.