The other day I received an e-mail about 15 new foals who had just arrived at a sanctuary and were in desperate need of homes. Huh, says I – why so many? Where did they come from? Who is breeding these animals and not taking any responsibility for them? I am totally confused. So I started digging and this is what I found. Just when you think it is “safe to go back into the water” another atrocity strikes.
Known as “nurse mare foals,” these orphaned babies are the throwaway by-product of a cynical industry that leases out lactating mares - their mothers - to nurse foals other than their own. Their own foals are taken from them between one day and one week of age. These foals are either killed, sent to slaughter or rescued. Some are also skinned and their hides used for high end leather products – soft like a baby’s skin.
Why does this evil practice even exist you ask? Here is why: A mare who is prized as a race horse can immediately return to work as a show horse or racehorse after giving birth to her own foal. Instead, her baby is nursed by the nursing mares who are leased out. A prized mare can also be bred again if she does not have to be involved with nursing her own foal. She, of course, does not have a choice. It is all about money and elitism. It is wrong.
The only way to stop this evil is for the racing industry and others who do this to allow their mares to nurse and wean their own young for as long as it takes.
Please see these links on the issue and on the rescues that are helping the unwanted foals:
Dream Equine Therapy Center
A word about the homeless horse crisis, which is directly related to horse slaughter.
According to the USDA, 112,904 US horses were slaughtered in 2010 – up from 106,542 in 2009. 53,104 went to Mexico and 59, 693 to Canada. Horse slaughter is illegal in the US.
We need to put a stigma on the breeding of horses just like we have done about the irresponsible breeding of cats and dogs. We still kill millions in animal shelters yearly, but the numbers have gone down significantly because of campaigns emphasizing spaying and neutering and controlling births. The same thing must be done with horses.
There are far too many and not enough good homes. The slaughter house is no option and we need to get a handle on this obscene problem. While these babies are adorable and are in desperate need of a home, they will displace other horses already here. It is an industry that should be abolished.
As long as so many - horses, cats, and dogs – are throwaways, dying for lack of good homes, something is wrong with our society.