Saving Premarin Mares and Their Foals

It’s commonly understood that some smaller animals are used in drug testing, but it came as a shock to me that we use horses to produce drugs. Most of us know that many cosmetics and drugs are tested on animals. Vegetarians and other animal activists have long protested industries that harvest products from animals, especially when there are plant alternatives to be found. Still, animal fats and oils are as common an industry as the meat industry is.

Amino acids, the building blocks of protein in animals and plants, are used in vitamins, supplements, and shampoos. PETA has an extensive “Animal-Derived Ingredients List,” which includes alpha-hydroxy acids used in anti-wrinkle cream, made from the uric acid of cows, to carbamide, to turtle oil. And, PETA provides a helpful list of non-animal derived alternatives to these ingredients. Take for instance, their entry on urea:

    “Typically synthetic. When extracted from animals, it is excreted from urine and other bodily     fluids. In deodorants, ammoniated dentifrices, mouthwashes, hair colorings, hand creams,     lotions, shampoos, etc. Used to “brown” baked goods, such as pretzels. Derivatives:     Imidazolidinyl Urea, Uric Acid.”

Some animal rescue groups focus on animals that are overbred, unwanted, lost, or unclaimed. Others focus on transporting and saving animals whose fate is to be auctioned off or destroyed after they are no longer useful to an industry. Race horses retire; circus animals are adopted. But female horses suffer greatly at the hands of the drug industry. They are caged in cramped stalls, impregnated, and deliberately given very little water. This produces concentrated urine used to make some birth control pills and specifically, the menopause treatment drug, Premarin. After their foals are born, both mother and foal are allowed to graze and wean, but the foals are typically auctioned or destroyed, a mere byproduct of the drug process. The mares too are destroyed after they can no longer get pregnant. The drug company was not subtle in their naming of the drug they produce: Pre(gnant) Mar(e’s) (Ur)ine = Premarin Mares.

More specifically, the pregnant mares’ urine is used for the female hormone that estrogen contains.

PETA’s entry on Estrogen:

    Estrogen. Estradiol.
    “Female hormones from pregnant mares’ urine. Considered a drug. Can have harmful systemic     effects if used by children. Used for reproductive problems and in birth control pills and     Premarin, a menopausal drug. In creams, perfumes, and lotions. Has a negligible effect in the     creams as a skin restorative; simple vegetable-source emollients are considered better.     Alternatives: oral contraceptives and menopausal drugs based on synthetic steroids or     phytoestrogens (from plants, especially palm-kernel oil). Menopausal symptoms can also be     treated with diet and herbs.”

The fact that there are viable alternatives to using such large, sensitive animals as horses in this way should be enough to end this practice. Data proving that estrogen has little effect in the restorative skin creams it is used in should have everyone reaching for a better, more humane alternative.  

There are several rescue groups, such as this one, who are saving Premarin Horses from certain death, after they’ve had a long run as basically very large lab rats. When these large animals are discarded, the actual rescue could especially use your help. Hay, water, and shelter for even a few horses is expensive. Approximately $1,000 is needed to purchase a used mare or its foal at auction. That figure may seem like small potatoes compared to the money the large drug companies put into them on the front end, while harvesting their urine and hormones. But a grand is a lot for a small farmer or kind-hearted community members trying to do the humane thing.

Not everyone has land, veterinary, and other resources to save every one of them. But there are numerous ways to help. Supporting established horse rescues is the best way to provide enrichment, a clean environment, and medical treatment for an animal in need. Whether you give your labor, knowledge of technology, farm equipment – even if it’s just sharing a horse sanctuary’s website with friends, you’re making a difference. Boost the signal! A good photographer can create compelling images to put a rescue on the map or advertise its upcoming fundraiser. Rescues often allow you to sponsor one particular horse, which might be a good project for a teenager or class project. Support their fundraisers, whether it’s a fish fry, clean-up day, or small entrance fee for a “petting zoo” visit. Hanging out with horses is great for their socialization and well-being (this works both ways). It is no small feat to help someone else rescue and care for these deserving animals.

All of us agree that animals have a right to live their best healthy lives, especially considering their countless services to humans. For horses specifically, there are rescues for wild horses, donkeys, minis, brood mares, and studs. Why not help animals used for drug production too?

Here is a list of just some of the horse sanctuaries doing good work to save lives. You CAN help.

Homeward Equine Rescue:

Horses for Life:

Day’s End Farm Horse Rescue:

Horses for Life:

Slaughter Horse Rescue:

KPH Awareness:

Saving Slaughter Bound Horses:

Rosemary Farm Horse Sanctuary:

Canham Farm:

Horse Plus Humane Society:

White Phantoms Horse Rescue:

RMJ’s Horse Rescue:

Help Save Ship Pen Horses from Slaughter:

Angels Grove Ranch :

Rescued Horses Available for Adoption:

Promise Horse Rescue:

Louisiana Horse Rescue:

Red Rock Horse Rescue Rehab and Blue Star Barn:

Ark-LA-Tex Horse Rescue:

All the King’s Horses Equine Rescue

White Bird Apaloosa Rescue:

White Phantoms Horse Rescue:

RMJ’s Horse Rescue: