The Premarin Mare

EndPMU

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.

PMUAlternative

 

 

Timmy Goes Missing-A Timmy Tale

Timmyoutontheland

 

Gina loved the weekends because her mother often allowed her to stay at Kuhaylah Arabians from Friday night through Sunday afternoon. So instead of waking up on this Saturday morning to the sounds of her mom and current boyfriend arguing, she awakened to the smell of chicken apple sausage cooking. At her own home, she would have been lucky to find a decent brand of cereal and milk that was in date. After her usual morning ritual of face washing and such, Gina wandered into the kitchen just as Renata was scrambling the eggs.

“Good Morning, Renata,” said Gina as she retrieved a couple of plates from the cabinet and carried them to the table.

“Good Morning,” said Renata.

The morning news was playing in the background on the small television on the kitchen counter as Gina finished setting the table and Renata finished cooking. Gina helped Renata make the plates with eggs and sausage and Renata set another plate on the table with toasted English muffins that were already dripping with butter. Renata turned to shut off the TV because she preferred talking during meals, when a breaking news story announced a missing boy.

The local news reporter, Nancy Hill, appeared on the screen. All blonde hair and blue eyes…a walking cliché.

“A boy has gone missing,” she announced maintaining her serious reporter face as she continued. “I’m here at Connie’s Creatures, a local petting zoo, where the search is underway for a five year old boy that disappeared from his church group who were here to visit the sweet farm animals as part of the Mother’s Day Out program that the church runs for single mothers. The boy’s mother has just arrived,” said Nancy with a gleam in her eye.

Seconds later, Nancy Hill, was shoving a microphone in the face of the distraught young mother.

“That woman has no shame,” said Renata as she turned off the television.

“You know her?” asked Gina.

“She used to cover horse shows and the like. She always loved it when someone was injured. The more serious, the better.” Renata continued, “That animal farm is near here. We need to help with the search after we feed the horses.”

Renata walked over to a side counter and picked up her iPhone. “Go ahead and eat. I’m going to call Lucas.”

“Lucas Remington, the sheriff’s deputy you’re friends with?” asked Gina.

Renata nodded as she said, “Hello Lucas. Yes, I heard. We’re going to help with the search after we feed the horses. Gina’s with me. Okay, I’ll call you as soon as we’re done. Let me know if you need horses to continue the search,” said Renata and then she clicked off the call and slid the phone in her pocket.

Gina had finished eating and was starting to clean up, but then Renata said, “We’ll clean up later. Pull on your boots and let’s go.” She grabbed a chicken sausage with one hand and ate it as she opened the back door with the other and strode toward the main barn which housed the mares. Gina came flying out the door behind her just after slipping her feet into her steel-toed cowboy boots, her barn boots as she called them. Even in a hurry, Renata looked graceful in Gina’s eyes as she scrambled to keep up.

Several scoops of feed later, the mare’s barn was done, and they headed to the smaller stallion barn. Spirit and his son, Flame whinnied in unison as Renata and Gina arrived at the barn. Renata walked straight to Spirit and held the beautiful face the black stallion offered over the stall door in her hands, placing her forehead to his.   He became a kitten in her hands. It always looked to Gina as if they were communing telepathically. She couldn’t help feeling jealous every time they did it. Flame nickered softly to her.

“I know. You want your feed,” Gina said quietly. She walked to the feed bin, lifted the lid with one hand and grabbed a scoopful with the other. She closed the lid after retrieving the scoop and then crossed the narrow barn aisle and entered Flame’s stall. He immediately attacked the feed after she poured it in the corner feed bucket. The sun was peeking through the small windows up high in the stalls and Flame’s bright red coat glistened with spots of gold and copper. Gina couldn’t help wishing he was hers and she could one day share the same bond with him that Renata shared with Spirit. Flame lifted his head from the feed, turned toward Gina and nuzzled her, but quickly returned to the feed bucket.

“He’s bonding with you,” said Renata, as if she were reading Gina’s mind.

“What do you mean? He just turned for a second,” said Gina.

“When a horse stops eating feed, one of their favorite things, to greet someone, that means they care about that person,” said Renata.

Gina took one more look at Flame before stepping out of the stall and allowed herself to imagine for a moment that he was truly hers.

“Ok, let’s go feed the retirees. They’re already gathered up front,” said Renata, breaking Gina from her reverie.

Gina loved how Renata called the front pasture horses retirees. They earned their retirement she always said. The feed buckets for the pasture horses hung on the fence just east of the stallion barn, so they didn’t have far to walk. Renata had poured feed into a wheelbarrow that she rolled over now as they walked toward the fence. They both grabbed a scoop of feed and emptied them into a couple of buckets before wasting no time to scoop up some more feed. This was a process that had to be done quickly to minimize the breakout of fights. A few minutes later, all the horses were happily munching away in their individual buckets, but then Gina noticed one of the buckets had no one attending to it.

“Oh my gosh, Renata! Where is Timmy?!” Gina exclaimed.

“I just noticed that too,” said Renata. “I’ll saddle up Spirit, you get Freedom from the other barn and we’ll ride out to find him,” said Renata.

Gina ran to the mares’ barn to get Freedom. The seasoned mare had finished her feed and was happy to see Gina to take her out to the paddock as per the usual routine. Gina slipped her halter on her in the stall and as she exited the stall, she turned right in the barn aisle to head to her paddock.

“Sorry girl. We have to find Timmy first. You’ll get to hang out with your paddock buddies later,” said Gina as she patted Freedom’s neck and then turned her the other way toward the saddling area.

Just a short time later, Gina met up with Renata outside the gate that led to the front pasture. Renata on her black stallion, Spirit and Gina on the dependable chestnut mare. Freedom was the first offspring of Spirit. And like all his children, she was beautiful; fiery chestnut coat, flowing tail, blaze and all.

“Ok, let’s check the pond out front first,” said Renata and they cantered out together toward the pond. What a sight they would have been to anyone watching. Two petite women riding magnificent Arabian horses, running with tails held high. One glistening black in the morning sun and the other flaming red.

Timmy was not at the pond, so they headed toward the gate that led to the back pasture. It was open this time of year, so they cantered through single file, Renata leading the way on Spirit. Kuhaylah Arabians was over two hundred acres in size, so the search was cut out for them. They rode side by side on the main trail, walking now and watching and listening.

They both stopped in their tracks. They heard the faint whinny at the same time. Gina’s heart leapt into her throat, “Timmy’s alive!” she said out loud because she had feared the worst. She loved that little golden pony so much.

Renata held up her hand, palm facing toward Gina. She was listening intently. Nothing. So, she called out, “Timmy!” There was another whinny in response to her query and this time stronger. It came from in front of them, off to the right, deep amongst the trees. Renata urged Spirit straight into a gallop from a dead stop. Gina urged Freedom to follow. The red mare wasn’t as fast as Spirit, but she willingly followed at a good clip.

They slowed to a trot as they left the trail to enter the thicket. Halfway into the trees, Timmy came trotting up to them. He seemed perfectly fine, so Renata said, “Timmy, you gave us a huge scare. Come here!” Timmy looked at Renata and just as it was with Spirit, it appeared that they were communicating telepathically. They continued to stare at each other for what seemed to Gina like several minutes, but in reality, was only seconds. Timmy shook his head, blonde mane tossing about his neck, then turned on his heels and trotted deeper into the trees. Renata followed without saying a word, so Gina followed too.

Timmy slowed to a walk as they entered a small clearing, so Renata and Gina slowed their mounts too. Timmy had stopped in front of a lone tree in the clearing. Renata and Gina had both been temporarily blinded by the morning sun. Timmy stepped sideways, head down near the base of the tree and when Gina and Renata urged their horses a few steps forward into the shade of the great oak tree, they saw what Timmy was looking at.

The little boy stirred and placed his little hands on each side of Timmy’s soft muzzle and kissed his nose. “Hello horsey,” he said.

….

“We found the boy,” said Renata talking on her cell to Lucas. “He’s fine, just a few scratches and tired after his adventure,” she continued.

The little boy whose name was Caleb, he had informed them on the ride back to the house, was now munching happily on some leftover chicken apple sausage at the kitchen table.

“Ok, we’ll see you in a bit,” said Renata before setting down the cell phone.

Renata walked over and sat down at the table with Gina and Caleb. “How are you feeling Caleb?” she asked.

“Great!” he answered with a mouthful of sausage. “I love Timmy! He saved me! And I love Freedom too! I never got to ride a horse before! Can I ride Freedom by myself sometime? I mean, it was fun riding with Gina, but I wanna try on my own!” Somehow the boy was smiling, talking and eating all at the same time. Gina and Renata looked at each other and smiled.

There was a knock at the back door. Renata rose from the table and walked the few steps to the door, opening it and in stepped Lucas Remington, tall, dark and formidable in his deputy’s uniform. He removed his hat as he entered, revealing the tight, jet-black, curls clipped closely to his head. He was clean cut and smelled of leather and musk. Gina always had a hard time talking to him because of his great beauty.

“Hi Lucas,” Gina managed.

“Hello, Gina,” he said before turning his attention toward Renata. His face softened when he gazed at Renata, and Gina wished that someone would look at her like that someday.

“Hello Lucas,” Renata said smiling. “It’s good to see you as always.”

Lucas smiled at her and then turned toward the boy, his face all business again. “How you feeling, Caleb?” he asked.

“Awesome!” said Caleb, now munching on an English muffin.

“That’ good to hear,” said Lucas now smiling at the boy. Lucas reached out his hand and said, “Let’s go see your mom now, she’s been worried sick,”

“Okay,” said Caleb getting up from the table and grabbing another English muffin on his way out.

“I’ll call you later Renata and let you know how things went,” said Lucas as he turned to leave, holding Caleb’s hand.

Caleb stopped and turning toward Renata asked, “Can I come back and ride Freedom one day?”

“I would like that Caleb,” said Renata. “Lucas, give my number to his mother, will you?” she asked.

“Yes ma’am,” said Lucas, tipping his hat and smiling warmly at her, before turning and stepping out the door with Caleb in hand.

After they drove off in the squad car, Gina asked, “Why don’t you go out with him, Renata? He’s obviously in love with you.”

Renata had her back to Gina as she continued to look out the kitchen window even though the car was no longer in sight, but then she turned toward Gina and for a split second the sun caught in her eyes and Gina noticed a slight shimmer, as if Renata were holding back tears. But that wasn’t possible Gina thought, because Renata was always strong, never emotional.

“Gina, we need to turn out the mares,” Renata said as she turned and opened the back door, stepping out as she said it. Her voice was strong as always, no hint of sadness or longing. Gina followed her out the back door without another word.

Timmy and the Girl-A Timmy Tale

Just for fun I’m going to write a series of short stories centered around my little rescue horse, Timmy. Here’s the first one, and some characters from these stories will end up in my Fyrestorm novel. Timmy is just so cute I felt compelled to write stories about him too! Hope you guys like it!

CuteTimmyatcar
Timmy

 

Gina shimmied under a low spot beneath the white, pipe fence separating the front pasture of Kuhaylah Arabians from the road, and the pony trotted right up to her as always. She pulled the carrot from her pocket and, not wasting any time, he took the entire treat in his mouth before the rest of the herd noticed. The pony was the smallest of the bunch and not a purebred, like the rest of them. He was a cutie though, a beautiful coppery, golden color, with a dishwater blonde mane and tail and a jagged, white, blaze running the full length of his face to the tip of his nose. And on this lovely Spring day, his slick coat glistened in the sun. The pony didn’t leave after he finished the carrot, but stayed with Gina. She was drawn to him because she was an outsider in her circles too. And, like him, she had dishwater blonde hair, although it was cuter on him in her opinion. Gina felt less than cute with her skinny body, flat chest and long, stringy, often tangled, hair.

Gina spoke softly to the pony, rubbing his neck and scratching his cheek, the way he liked. “I love you little boy, I wish I could stay here with you,” she said as she started to cry. She hugged his neck as the events of the previous day came crashing back into her brain.

 

“We have to add Gina Targoff to the list,” Chet whispered.

“Of course! She should be at the top!” responded Carrie, in a louder whisper. Chet, Carrie and their minions all giggled.

Gina was keeping her head down, pretending to read whatever textbook she had opened in front of her. She refused to cry; she would not show them weakness. Even though Gina knew they were whispering loud enough for her to hear on purpose. Dale City High School was almost a daily exercise in humiliation. She fought back the tears though…

“Yeah Gina is definitely the ugliest girl in the school,” said Chet.

They all laughed again.

 

The golden pony put his head on Gina’s shoulder as if he was trying to comfort her. She hugged him tighter and just let the tears flow until there were no more, but she continued to hug him, just taking in his horsey scent and allowing it and the quiet to calm her mind.

“Timmy has really taken to you,” said a voice behind Gina. One with the slightest hint of an accent, an accent from another country though, not rural Texan as Gina had grown accustomed to.

Gina straightened and jumped back a step from the pony in one quick move.

“I’m sorry. I know I’m not supposed to be here,” said Gina looking up at the woman astride a black, Arabian stallion, solid black save a small white star on his forehead.

“Come closer girl,” said the woman.

Gina walked toward her and saw that she was probably around her father’s age. She was attractive, with an exotic look about her. She had her long brown hair pulled back with a black velvet scrunchy. But then Gina’s eyes were drawn back to the horse. So much like the black stallion she had read about, except the one in the books was solid black. But this stallion before her had the same wild look of the one in the books; thick black mane, forelock blowing in the breeze about his face, and a thick, flowing tail. He pranced about a bit and snorted a couple of times. The woman said something to him that Gina couldn’t quite hear, and he settled down.

“What is your name?” asked the woman.

“Gina…Gina Targoff,” Gina answered. “Please don’t have me arrested. I’ll never come on your property again.”

The woman laughed. But in a lilting way, not in a, you’re damn right you’re going to jail, kinda way.

“I was actually thinking of offering you a job. I’ve watched you with Timmy. You two have formed quite a bond.”

“Timmy, a cute name, for a cute little boy!” said Gina.

The woman laughed again. “My name is Renata Silva and I am the owner of this ranch. So, what about the job?” Renata asked.

“I don’t know anything about horses or ranches,” Gina answered.

“Do you know how to drag a water hose or carry buckets?”

“Umm, yes…” answered Gina.

“Okay, good. We’ll start with that.”

Gina jumped when something firm and soft rubbed the small of her back. She spun around and little Timmy nuzzled her chest.  Gina reached out and stroked his face.

“He loves you and trusts you. You’re a natural with horses,” said Renata.

“He’s so sweet. May I ask how he came to be here among…” began Gina.

“…among all these purebred Arabians?” said Renata finishing her sentence.

“Well…yes. Is it rude to ask?” said Gina.

Renata laughed again. A sound like music to Gina. “No, it’s not rude, Gina. He was my horse, when I was a young girl in Brazil. The story of how he and I came to be here in this small north Texas town is a long one,” Renata said with a smile on her face. “Spend a little more time with Timmy and then head up to the big house and I’ll show you around,” said Renata as she wheeled her black stallion around and galloped up the hill toward the house.

Gina watched the beautiful woman in control of such a magnificent animal and couldn’t help wishing that could be her one day. She turned back to Timmy and gave him a hug. “Did you hear that boy? Now I can see more of you and no more sneaking around!” One of the chestnut Arabian mares had come closer, curious about this skinny, young girl in the big pasture. Timmy laid back his ears and turning on a dime chased her off as if to say, “This is my girl!”

Gina laughed, for the first time since she could remember. It had been a long, emotional journey from Dallas to Dale City. Even though they were only an hour apart, they were years apart in cultures, and the students of Dale City High did not respond well to a newcomer. For the very first time in a long time, Gina felt like she was where she belonged.