Wednesday, June 14, 2006

I want a PONY!

"Mommy, can we get a pony? Please, Mommy! She could live in the back yard and I would feed her and brush her every day after school. I promise I would! Can we, Mommy, pleeeease, pleeeease?"

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I worked on that horse deal for years as a kid. I wanted one so badly. I read Black Beauty, Misty of Chincoteague, My Friend Flicka and every damn Saddle Club book I could my little hands on. I wore out our vhs copy of National Velvet. I begged to go to the two week Girl Scout camp where you got to ride horses every day and learn how to brush them and pick their hooves and braid their manes. I didn't get to go because we moved that summer. I was crushed.

Then, fortune smiled on this little horse nut. We moved to southern California, the friggin horsey capital of the west. There were entire housing tracts designed for people to own and ride their horses in their back yards! There were barns full of ponies and riding instructors everywhere I looked. My parents were doomed. Eventually, I got a job mucking out stalls and feeding forty some odd horses at a local barn. Mom and I bought a horse named Shadow for (get this) $300! He even came with a saddle. There is no such thing as an inexpensive horse, what with shoes, vet bills, deworming, feed, boarding costs etc. ad nauseum. I worked my tail off to help pay for him. Shadow was the kind of horse that comes around once in a lifetime. He was smart, opiniated and incredibly talented. He passed away last year, an accomplished and happy "old man". He is missed.

What's the point of this reader's digest account of my horsey history? Just this, what little girl didn't want a pony growing up? I lucked out and managed to be in the right place with the right parents at the right time. (my mom had a horse named Sugar when she was in high school so she was predisposed to the idea). Just because you might not have gotten your pony, though doesn't mean that you can't still have something to do with them.

Have you heard about Premarin?

Premarin is an estrogen product extracted from pregnant mare urine - "Premarin" - get it?. It is manufactured by Wyeth-Ayerst Pharmaceuticals and is most commonly prescribed for women going through menopause or those who have had a hysterectomy. It is the most widely used drug today for estrogen replacement therapy. It has been marketed for more than fifty years and is currently prescribed to more than 9,000,000 American women.

The problem with the stuff is that 1.) the method of collection and the use of the horses is cruel 2.) the babies are treated as a by-product and slaughtered and 3.) there are now better, safer hormone replacements called bio-identical hormones that are derived from plants.

"Mares may be used for up to twenty years providing they become pregnant during
the short summer breeding season. Once they have outlived their usefulness they
are usually sent to auction and thence to slaughter. It is estimated that there
are between 50,000 and 75,000 mares giving birth annually at the PMU farms. The
foals that result are allowed to be with their mothers for about four months,
rather than the usual six before being weaned. These foals are then sent
directly to slaughter or unsheltered feedlots to gain weight before being sent
to slaughter with the meat used for human consumption in Europe, Japan and
Mexico via American Airlines, one of the largest carriers of frozen horse meat.
Young foal meat is very much in demand since according to the USDA it is much
more tender."


Yeah, that's just not good.

Then there is the financial factor. You see, Wyclef can patent "Premarin" and "Prempro" because it is not a naturally occurring substance in the human body. Thus they can make a lot of money off of their patented product. Bio-identical hormones are plant derived hormones that are identical at the molecular level to the hormones naturally created by the human body. You can't patent something that is identical to a naturally occurring substance. Guess what a huge pharmaceutical company can make more money on? Yep, the unnatural, cruel, but patented substance.

I am on hormone replacement therapy myself and will be for the rest of my life. I'm a little young for it (29) but, hey that's the way things worked out. When I was first going through all this fun, I didn't question my doctors too much. I just listened to what they told me and behaved myself. These days I am much more of a pain in the ass. When I found out what they were trying to prescribe for me I went ballistic. The hormone patch that I currently use is called "Climara" and, despite the similar name, is derived from soy. Amazing little things those soy beans.

There is good news and bad news to all this today. The good news is that women are becoming aware of how Premarin is made and are switching to other methods of hormone replacement therapy. The bad news is that as the PMU farms slow down production, the mares are no longer needed. If you think it's hard to find homes for a million cats and dogs at the animal shelter, try finding homes for thousands of premarin mares. But, folks are working on it!

Why do I give a damn?

My mom recently adopted a new horse. Her name is Kahlua 'n Creme. She's a beautiful, gentle filly who is going to grow up to be a lovely horse.

She was rescued from a Premarin farm in Canada.

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8 comments:

Peter Matthes said...

Horses are really beautiful animals.

My friend just did a spoof commercial for My Pet Pony. In her commercial, you brush it's hair and it's eyes light up. If you push a button it asks for cigarettes.

"More Marlboros please"

I am glad you mom just adopted one. That should be a lot of fun for both of you.

Painter Beach Girl said...

I get that from my kids, wanting a pony. Wow, I had no idea aobut Premarin!!!

Cherry Red said...

Hi Meesh,

I found my way over here from Freethinker's blog. Hello from one Southern Californian to another!

I too was (am) a horseloving girl. I wanted one so bad, but my parents were divorced and mom had little money. I had riding lessons at a little stable in So. CA for $5 a week for a couple of years and I was in heaven.

I hadn't heard about this Premarin/Prempro issue and I'm appalled! I just can't believe (well, really I can) what awful things some people will do to make a buck. Thank you for drawing my attention to this worthy cause.

And congrats and way to go to your mom for adopting Kahluah and Cream. That's really cool.

meesh said...

Hi Cherry Red - thanks for visiting my little ole' blog. :) I also have very fond memories of weekly riding lessons. I just could not get enough horsey time! Which, I guess, is why the Premarin thing really makes me queasy to think about. Grrrr...

Hey Painter Beach Girl! - Thanks for the comment. It's very cool to know that women are learning about this issue.

P.S. You gotta take your girls horseback riding on that beach someday. ;)

ellocin1 said...

Well that's interesting and disturbing about the horse cream. If only they would just stop being so cruel to animals... Maybe we'll see a story about this on the evening news now that your blog has outed the topic! TV really seems to be the only way to make americans aware of a situation.

Bi-coastal Eddie said...

I've been on a hormone patch, but not the soy one that you use, and that was fine until I started getting patches with crapass glue, so that I went through a month's worth of patches in a week. This month, because I can't afford to refill, I've gone back to Premarin with full doses of guilt, but just until I can afford to renew the stupid patches again. By the way, that is a spectacular bunnus in your picture there. I've had two, both indoors, one male and one female, one good and one evil, and unfortunately the evil one was the last one so I guess I'm off rabbits for now. That and the fact that I don't have the knees that I used to, so getting up and down on the floor, to be at rabbit level is no longer an option, but your photo made me think about having another one. By the way, when Woofus, the first one, was happy with the quality of petting that he was getting, he'd lick your hand to encourage you - a move that is often identified by it's scientific name, "bunnilingus" . {I'll understand if you choose to take out that comment. :)}

Anonymous said...

Hi, Meesh: Just want to say I love visiting here!
You mentioned that Prempro can be patented because it is not a naturally occuring substance in the body. Actually, bio patents can be obtained. Have you seen the documentary, The Corporation??
Moving on... I must say that at 39 yoa, I hope I can deal with my menopause drug free in every way and not mind a bit. I think the _decision_ to take hormones must be given its due, and respected as a difficult one, ponies notwithstanding. These are *hard* decisions.
Shall we talk stem cells, and what they could do for various diseases? Let's just say for arguement that I think stem cell use is inherently wrong. But then, I don't have an incurable disease, right? What is beneficial to one is not beneficial to another and is dependant on vested interest. Thanks for the data on ponies.

SK, Maryland
PS: I don't (obviously!!) agree with ponies being cruelly farmed in this fashion.

meesh said...

Hi SK!

Thanks for stopping by! Yes, these are all complicated issues. As far as the bio patents, I do remember something in The Corporation about companies controlling water and other really great ideas now that you mention it. I'll have to look it up again, but I read that they cannot patent something that occurs *naturally* in the human body. If that has changed...well, I'd rather not consider the consequences.
I'm not sure how stem cells and cloning fall into that. Can they patent the process, but not the actual cloned sheep? Hmmmm, again I need to do more research. :)

In any case, I think we can agree that ponies are for loving and caring for, not harvesting. Ugh!

Cheers!