Every year doctors prescribe hormone replacement therapy to hundreds of thousands of post-menopausal women. One of those drugs that has historically been among the most widely prescribed is made from horse urine. The drug is Premarin, an estrogen-therapy drug currently manufactured by Pfizer Pharmaceuticals.
Dozens of ranches in North Dakota and Canada house thousands of pregnant mares who produce urine for this company. These mares are kept pregnant every year from the age of two, and are kept totally confined with no more than one step in any direction during most of those pregnant months. They cannot easily lie down [and never lay on their sides flat out], and their drinking water is often limited to keep their urine concentrated. These mares must wear rubber urine collection bags at all times, which causes chafing and lesions and they are often in great pain from constant urinary tracts infections for being permanently catheterized.
Most have chronic illnesses and injuries from the lack of movement which they just have to suffer through. According to HorseAid, they have problems with stocking up, soreness and hoof/wall separation. At almost every farm they visited, there was some form of respiratory distress evident in the mares ‘on-line’. And this is just the physical condition, imagine their hopelessness, depression and grief over losing their babies at birth. Horses are not machines. They are beings with a consciousness and emotions, anyone who spends any time with them absolutely know that.
As long as they are alive, these mares are of use and can make money for this company. If they cannot become impregnated easily, they are usually sent right off to auction where they are usually bought by the pound, unless they are lucky enough to be bought by a rescue. Once the foals are born, the mares are impregnated again, and this cycle continues for about 12 years. Some of the thousands of foals born each year are used to replace their exhausted mothers. But most of them, along with the worn out mares, are sold at auction where they are either fattened up on feedlots and then sold for slaughter, or sent straight to the meat auctions. A small number are sold by foal operations to mostly U.S. rescue organizations. A filly foal has a less than 1 in 10 chance of not going to slaughter, and a colt foal, less than 1 in 50. Certainly there are ranchers who work hard to care for their horses, mares, studs and foals, but most of the research we have seen indicate that they are the exception to the rule.
When we started to research these mares lives, we also did some research to find out what kind of estrogen replacement drug we were taking. Fortunately here in the U.S. most of us are prescribed synthetic and non PMU based organic FDA-approved alternatives.