“PMU is used to produce estrogen and hormone-replacement drugs such as Premarin, PremPro and PremPhase and DUAVEE, a “PremPro-Lite” which contains Premarin. PMU drugs are made by keeping mares constantly pregnant and collecting their estrogen-rich urine.“-equineadvocates.org
Several years ago when I volunteered at Hope for Horses, a horse rescue which was formerly located in Blue Ridge, Texas, I learned about the details of the PMU industry. As a pharmacist, I already knew that the Premarin stood for “Pregnant mares’ urine”, but I had no idea as to the extent of the cruelty in the industry. I was inspired by what I learned to write the following short story from a Premarin mare’s point of view. The story is sad, but there is hope for the mare, because Hope for Horses and many other rescues throughout the U.S. and Canada have saved thousands of these mares and their foals and continue to do so. Please consider the multitude of alternatives for hormone replacement therapy. Estrace, for example, is one of the many alternatives available and is plant based and it has a very inexpensive generic, estradiol.
Author note: I took some poetic license with this story because I have never actually visited a PMU farm.
The Premarin Mare
The man was leading me through the large, cold building. I could see the heads of the other mares above their stalls. But worst of all I could hear their mournful cries. I had lived among other horses before, but I had never encountered such an intense smell of manure and urine before in my life. There were too many horses in this building.
I nickered softly to the man who led me through this hellish nightmare. I hoped that he would have sympathy for me and take me away from this place. He refused to turn and look at me. I stretched out my head and nuzzled his neck. He turned and struck me so viciously with his fist that I was stunned. I had never been treated roughly by a human before.
It seemed ages ago that two other men had come to my home and had taken me away. I can still remember the sound of my little girl sobbing and calling my name after I was loaded into the trailer. Up until that moment I hadn’t been worried because I thought I might just be going to see the man who would look in my mouth. I could see my little girl through the panels on the side of the trailer. She was running toward me, her long blonde hair streaming out behind her. She was screaming my name between her wrenching sobs. I answered her screams. I whinnied frantically.
The last thing I saw as the trailer began to drive away was the big man who lived in the house running toward my girl. He swept up my sweet little girl into his arms and held her tight. She was struggling. She had pounded her fists into his chest as she screamed my name.
Now, the man was leading me into one of the tiny stalls. I stopped and refused to move forward. He reached out and pinched my nostrils together with his huge hand. The pain was excruciating, especially since he had just punched me there, but I still stood my ground. He called to someone else. Another man walked up behind me and pressed something against my flanks. Incredible pain surged through my body and I bolted forward.
I was immediately chained to the stall. I tried to rear and buck, but the chains were too strong. Once my energy was exhausted the men hooked tubes to my lower body. The tubes were uncomfortable and rubbed between my inner rear legs, but there was nothing I could do.
I awoke to the sound of the other mares whining horribly and struggling against their chains. It may have been morning, but I couldn’t tell. My stall was too far into the depths of this large dismal building for me to see outdoors. My legs ached from standing all night on the concrete.
Then I realized why the other mares were struggling so hard. Men were bringing around buckets of water. I had never been so thirsty in all my life and so I began to struggle too. The mares on either side of me tried to bite me as the man came closer. I snapped back at them. We had become like vicious animals. No longer did there exist a herd mentality among these mares. We were struggling violently to take care of our own needs.
The man stopped in front of my stall with the water bucket and I quickly sank my muzzle into it. But before I had taken three gulps, he ripped the bucket away from me and continued to the next mare. I whined after him pitiably. I was so thirsty. Surely more water would come around soon. As the men with the water buckets passed through the rows and rows of mares, I could hear them whining and struggling to get to the water.
Weeks or maybe months went by and nothing improved. My body ached. I would often dream of my little girl. She would be riding me across the pasture on a beautiful sunny day. She was as light as a feather and I cantered happily about the pasture listening to the sound of her laughter drifting above my head.
Maybe someday I will see her again and I will answer her laughter with a carefree whinny.