Saturday, 28 April 2012

A horse lecture of sorts...and an update.

Photo just because horses are Awesome and still my most favouritist animal ever (despite having cats. Cats just live more comfortably in apartments)! This is Jamaica, another of the horses I saw when I was visiting southern Oregon last May. She's a draft-x and a very big girl. All the 185 horses at the Sanctuary have been rescued from neglect, abuse, abandonment, etc and now have a safe place to live for the rest of their days, doing nothing but grazing, playing, rolling in grass and being with their friends and families. The majority of the horses are ex-PMU mares and their final babies. PMU stands for Pregnant Mare Urine, which is used in the making of Premarin (PREgnant MARe urINe). Premarin is a hormone replacement therapy (HRT) prescribed for women going through menopause.

These beautiful animals are housed in barns, with no access to the outside and no room to turn around or lie down, for 6 - 8 months a year, every year. Year after year after year. There is a particular hormone in the mares' urine - but only while they are pregnant - that is collected for use in Premarin. So these animals stand in the dark, constantly pregnant, with urine collection bags strapped to them the entire time, unable to move until they have their foals. The foals only last a few months before they are separated from their mothers and sent to slaughter. Some of the fillies are kept to replace the older mares in the production line, and the older, used up horses are sent to slaughter as well. 

It's an ugly, inhumane business. Premarin has declined sharply in popularity over the past few years because of side effects on humans (it's HORSE PEE, of course, there's side effects) including a connection to breast cancer. Many people are unaware of this, and when I learned about it, I made the decision then and there that once I reach that point in my life, my doctor will not be prescribing anything but natural hormone replacement for me. I'm aware that sometimes it really is the only thing that works, but I believe people should at least know where it comes from, the possible side effects and what actually happens to these horses when their usefulness is considered at an end.

The Belgian on the ground has the brand of her barn on her rump: it's her number and a $ sign. That's all she meant to the people who owned her.

The photo posted on Sunday is also of Premarin foals, now all grown up. The Duchess Sanctuary is in a little town called Oakland, Oregon, about an hour south of Eugene. It's a beautiful 1120 acre property and all the horses are cared for by three devoted staff members. I was only there for a couple of days, but they were two of the best days I had last year. Wonderful.

You can see how big these beauties are in this picture. The lady with the bucket was the Director of the Sanctuary at the time, and (l-r) Donegal, Shilo and Monaco are all fighting over the remains of some alfalfa, carrot and apple "cake" that was made for another horse's birthday that day. These four had all been separated temporarily from their herd due to the need for some medications or minor health issues. I think they were back with their herd within a week.


I had a great session at the gym yesterday evening with my trainer, and slept like a log last night! I told him that I wanted to meet up with him again in two weeks' time because I'm not doing the workouts in between our sessions. I'm not certain I was explaining myself or my reasoning very well until the point where I said I need the accountability and wanted him to set a couple of goals for me, so that in two weeks time we can actually see some improvement and proof that I've actually been going to the gym. I'm paying for it + the sessions with him and it's getting a bit pricey, although I like having a trainer to keep me going, show me proper form and keep pushing me to do just a little more.

My week's spending looks like this:

Mon, April 23: $3.85 Tim Horton's (tea & bagel)

Tues, April 24: $5.22 Tim Horton's (tea & breakfast sandwich)

Wed, April 25: Groceries (milk & eggs) $12.27; I also returned an item to Amazon, which cost $22.80, but the refund will be $65.99.

Thurs, April 26: $25.15 (toilet paper - I know, who the heck spends $20 on TP? I bought a pkg of 24 double rolls, which I'm hoping will last me a long, long time) and two bags of PC chocolate peanut butter cups (1 for work, 1 for home...). Trust me. I'm worth it! ;)

Fri, April 27: No spend! I spend the afternoon with a friend, and then had my training in the early evening. It was a lovely day, actually, as the afternoon was also spent with three dogs...dogs are awesome. That's all I can say.

On Thursday, I also dropped off another bag of books at the second hand store. I managed to weed my bookcases yet again and was surprised that it seemed easier this time around. I'm certain there are more I could donate, but will leave it for the time being. While I was there, I asked what my current credit was: $164!! Wow. And that's before they added in the new bunch. Amazing!

Next week I have to organize my grant information for school and send off the request for a student line of credit. School registration begins on June 4th and I want to have everything in place before that, so I can head up there at 8:30 that morning and pay. Is it normal to not have a waiting list these days? I got my formal acceptance which said 'welcome to the program,' but the caveat is that there are only 20 spots available and that it's a first come, first served registration. I thought they would have had 20 reserved places, then set up a waiting list for numbers 21 on for any reserved spots that didn't get taken by a certain date.

There's also only 20 days left until my friend gets here for a week's visit... :)


saving for travel said...

That is so sad about those horses.

What a magical place for them now and what wonderful people run it.

Sounds like you've had a great week and are doing well at the gym.

Not long now until school begins...

So exciting!

Sft x

Jane and Chris said...

I vowed never to have hormone replacement...and seeing those beautiful girls makes it all worthwile.
Jane x

Jane said...

First of all - you get credit for the things you donate?? That's awesome!!! Secondly I'm on my way through menopause and don't take anything for it. I'm doing fine but have several hot flashes per day but they only last a minute. I had NO IDEA til I read your post about pregnant mare urine - that is revolting and the practice of keeping the horses stalled up like that should be ILLEGAL!!! Thank god for the people who save those lovely horses. Thanks for the info!

Northern Living Allowance said...

SFT - Yes, it was a wonderful experience. I'd like to do it again, it's just a matter of when! And school will be here faster than I think, so I'd better enjoy my summer while it lasts. :)

Jane - thanks for reading about it. As I said, I had no idea this sort of thing went on and when I found out, I was horrified. Natural therapy for me when I need it! x

(other) Jane - Yes, I can't remember the percentage, 20% of cover price or something? It's pretty cool and I had no idea it would add up so fast! :)

I'm glad you learned something from my "lecture." That was my intention. So many people don't know this stuff and I'd be happy if you can pass it along now that you know. The more that know, the better. It's all about choices and knowing how these things are produced. One less horse in this situation, the better - as long as she's safe. It's all money-driven; I agree it should be illegal. What we do to the animals of this world makes me ashamed...

MW said...

Thank you for educating us. I too had no idea. The practice grosses me out. Inhumane. No premarin for me.

Northern Living Allowance said...

Thanks MW! I hope you'll spread the word, too...