Saving Horses

Published Date: October 23rd, 2006
Category: Horses

By Jackie Harris

Saving a Horse

There are many equestrians around the United States and in foreign countries. Some compete with their animals and some just ride for fun. However, most probably do not know about the cruelty that is happening throughout the equine industry.

A nurse mare foal, is a foal who was born so that its mother might come into milk. The milk that the nurse mare is producing is used to nourish the foal of another mare, a more “expensive” foal. Primarily these are thoroughbred foals, though certainly not limited to the thoroughbred industry. The foals are essentially byproducts of the mare’s milk industry. A thoroughbred mare’s purpose is to produce more racehorses. A mare can give birth to one foal each year provided she is re-bred immediately after delivering a foal. Because the Jockey Club requires that mares be bred only by live cover, and not artificially inseminated. The mare must travel to the stallion for breeding and may be shipped as soon as 7-10 days after giving birth to a foal, but a period of 3-4 weeks is generally allowed.

Traveling is very risky for these newborn racing foals, and insurance costs are prohibitive for the foal to accompany the mother to the stallion farm. At this point a nurse mare is hired to raise the thoroughbred foal. In order to have milk, the nurse mare had to give birth to her own baby. When she is sent to the thoroughbred breeding farm, her own foal is left behind. Historically, these foals were simply killed. Orphaned foals are difficult to raise and no one had tried to raise large numbers of them. Now, these foals do have value … their hides can be used as “pony skin” in the fashion and textile industries, and the meat is considered a delicacy in some foreign markets. This is where a lot of rescue organizations come in. They rescue these foals by purchasing as many as they can, tend to their needs, and find them loving, secure homes. Please help us help them.

What Is Involved in Rescue?

The needs of orphan foals can be overwhelming. Even at their healthy best, they need lots of milk, nutritional support, and daily hands-on care until they are adopted into their new homes, when their new families take on these responsibilities.

Some healthy foals are quickly taken into their new homes, but many stay with us for longer periods of time, struggling to survive.

Foals in severely compromised heath have advanced needs that can exceed $75 to $100 a day per foal in veterinary and intensive care. Once a foal is in in stable health, these costs decrease dramatically, and are readily manageable by their new surrogate families (caring for one or two is a breeze compared to eight or twelve!).

So, if you are an equestrian, love horses, and would like to rescue a baby in need, look in your area for nurse mare foal rescue organizations. Saving a life of these wonderful animals can be very rewarding. Regardless of your interests, whether it be barrel racing, hunter jumper, dressage, trail riding, competition trail riding, rodeo, calf roping, western pleasure, anything that involves the majestic horse…save a life, and adopt a nurse mare foal for your next champion.

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