Ice–A PMU Rescue Foal
The naturally healthy horse I’m featuring for May is Ice—a PMU rescue horse cared for by Susan Boyd. Before I get to Ice’s story though, a little background information about the PMU industry is necessary.
Over seven decades ago, scientists discovered that hormones could be extracted from the urine of pregnant mares and used to produce human hormone replacement drugs. And thus the industry of PMU (pregnant mare urine) was born. Of course, in order to keep a constant supply of this urine, mares on the PMU ranches must be continually bred. The foals are the very unfortunate by-product of this industry.
During the 1940’s and 50’s, the living conditions for these mares was less than ideal. But then in the 1960’s and 70’s, animal rights activists became involved, leading to investigations and legislation which would improve the living conditions for these mares. However, the majority of the foals (as well as the mares which could no longer produce foals) continued to be sent to slaughter.
In the 1990’s, the North American Equine Ranching Council (NAERC) was created in order to assist PMU ranchers in education, breeding, and marketing of foals that could be sold as riding horses rather than go to slaughter. This council led to successful sales for many of the foals, but some continued to go to slaughter when buyers couldn’t be found.
In 2002, a study surfaced which demonstrated the negative effects of long-term use of hormone replacement therapy for women. A decline in the use of these drugs soon followed. Many PMU ranches did not have their contracts renewed and the market became flooded with PMU mares and foals—you can likely guess what happened to many of these horses.
Replacement hormone therapy drugs have continued to decline in popularity and as more and more PMU ranches close, more of these horses are in need of homes. The majority of these ranches are located in Canada, where horse slaughter is still legal.
Thankfully, many kind-hearted individuals and groups have stepped in to help find homes for these horses. One such person is Susan Boyd, who has adopted several PMU horses, including Ice.
Ice is an eight-year-old Percheron mare who came to live with Susan in 2008. “I rescued her when the PMU ranch shut down and their horses were heading for auction and possible slaughter,” said Susan.
Since coming to live with Susan, Ice has remained healthy. “She has never been shod and receives a good barefoot trim,” said Susan who took a year-long course on barefoot hoof care from K.C. LaPierre.
Susan currently rides Ice for pleasure. She uses natural horsemanship techniques and also works with Ice ‘at liberty’. “Ice is a very willing learner and loves to interact with people,” she said.
Ice currently lives in a pasture with two other draft horses who are also PMU rescues. All the horses thrive on a diet consisting of analyzed Timothy hay along with a vitamin/ mineral mix which provides the nutrients the hay is lacking. Susan feeds the hay in slow feeders (NAG bags) so that the horses have access to forage 24/7.
Susan has always insisted on giving Ice and the other horses she has rescued the best life possible and she has promised them a forever home. But due to unforeseen circumstances, including some health problems of her own, Susan is now in need of some help to continue caring for Ice and her other PMU rescues. She is currently running a campaign called Hay for Horses to raise money to help with hay and veterinary expenses for the horses at her sanctuary.
If you would like to contribute to her campaign or read more about her work with the rescues, see her website: www.artnanimals.com/.