Flag's Sentinels

Tara Arrowood
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Flag's Sentinels

Postby Tara Arrowood on Thu Dec 15, 2011 6:35 pm

Though The Flag Foundation for Horse/Human Partnership (theflagfoundation.org) was originally created to advocate for horses on and off the racetrack, over the years they've heard the call of other horses and now their herd of equine ambassadors represents nearly all plights of horse at the hands of man.

Jodee and Christee -- Belgian drafts -- and Tessa, a leopard Appaloosa -- came to The Flag Foundation from Canadian PMU ranches. PMU stands for Pregnant Mare Urine. In the 1990s, pharmaceutical executives dreamed up the idea to cull urine from pregnant mares as a source of estrogen therapy for menopausal women. Hundreds of ranches were funded. They each acquired up to 100 mares and a dozen stallions. The mares were allowed to breed naturally (the only grace in this endeavor) with the stallions in the field. Once pregnant, they were confined in stalls and catheterized for round-the-clock urine collection. After birth, fillies were kept, sent into the fields with their mothers to be impregnated. Most colts were sold for meat. The cycle continued for years until Premarin (the primary pharmaceutical marketed from PMU) was found to cause heart disease and cancer in women. Suddenly, the ranches faced shutdown with 100s of stallions, mares and foals facing slaughter unless homes could be found.

The Flag Foundation heard the call and received Jodee, Christee and Tessa on a cold, sunny December day in northern California at a holding center near Stockton usually reserved for cattle sales. They backed up they hired trailer to a chute and all three were hustled in, only Jodee still had her halter and tag on from the long transport from Canada. Their Executive Director, Kimberly Carlisle, followed the trailer all the way to their ranch on the California coast, from time to time glimpsing Christee standing backwards in the trailer (the natural way horses will ride if given a choice) face peering out the window as the sun set to the west. It was a magical start, Kimberly says, to a profound life together.

Two months later, Tessa gave birth to a filly, Caramel, whom they weren't sure was viable. But she stood tall and strong on tiny legs and now Cara is a healthy 3-year-old who lives in pasture with the Flag herd, including her mare.

Christee's foal they were certain was healthy and would be born without incident. Two weeks after Caramel was born, Christee went into labor. An hour later, with the black nose and hoofs protruding from his mare's birth canal, the little colt stopped breathing. Christee's and our vets valiant efforts failed to revive him. Christee braved halter, trailer, hospital and the strength of five men and women with a calf jack to extract his body from hers so she could live.

It took six months after that to convince Jodee the Flag team was safe enough so she would allow them to remove her halter.

Now, Jodee and Christee greet every visitor to Equistar Farm -- named for Christee's colt -- with watchful eye, open heart, giant charm and anchored feet. They are Flag's sentinels.
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Karen Bayerl (Fri Dec 16, 2011 1:39 am)
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Carien Schippers
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Re: Flag's Sentinels

Postby Carien Schippers on Fri Dec 23, 2011 10:52 am

Tara, thank you for sharing this story. Even though the PMU ranches have been closed down we will still be seeing the by products of this industry for a long time to come.
"Doing what you love is freedom,
Loving what you do is happiness"

~ Chinese proverb

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