Horse Tips

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, September 1993:

Reporters Rans Pierson of The New York Post and Phillip
Nalbone of the Wall Street Journal recently followed Phyllis Orrick of
the New York Press in amplifying ANIMAL PEOPLE’s April and
July/August exposes of the treatment of horses in making the estrogen
supplement Premarin. Up to 75,000 pregnant mares spend half of each
year catheterized for urine collection and confined to narrow stalls;
most of their foals are sold to slaughter. Their numbers could triple
when the manufacturer, Ayerst Organics Inc., completes expansion of
its urine processing plant in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada. According
to Pierson, more than eight million American women take Premarin
for menopausal symptoms. Costing half as much as synthetic alterna-
tives made by Ciba Pharmaceuticals, Mead Johnson, and Abbott
Labs, Premarin holds 80% of the estrogen supplement market, and is
now the most prescribed drug in the U.S. An Ayerst spokesperson said
the number of horses involved is much lower than the 75,000 estimate
produced by longtime estrogen industry observer Tom Hughes of the
Canadian Farm Animal Care Trust, adding that the firm isn’t responsi-
ble for the fate of the foals anyhow. Medical columnist Zoltan Rona,
M.D., meanwhile argued in the July issue of Alive magazine that
menopausal women could avoid needing estrogen supplements by
avoiding meat and taking appropriate vitamins, minerals, and herbs.

ANIMAL PEOPLE has received a photo (too dark to print)
of a carriage driver in Acapulco, Mexico, using a car battery to goad
his horse, but does not yet know if this is common practice.
Yearling sale receipts rose 3.5% at the annual July thor-
oughbred auction in Keeneland, Kentucky, as 208 horses fetched
$48.9 million, and the number of unsold horses dropped from 83 to
43. However, the average price of an elite horse fell by $23,201, to
$235,433, an indication that thoroughbred racing and breeding is still
in the steep slump that began in 1989. A total of 44,212 foals were
born in 1989, according to the Jockey Club, of whom only 25,711
(58%) ever started a race, 13,598 have won races, and 611 have won
stakes races. The 1993 foal total is expected to be 32,900.
Harness racing is also slumping, forcing the high-prestige
Saratoga Raceway in Saratoga Springs, New York, to cancel races
scheduled from January through March of 1994.
Former racetrack trainer Burton K. Sipp, now running a
roadside zoo, has been relicensed by the Pennsylvania Racing
Commission and is pursuing legal action seeking readmission to the
state’s major thoroughbred tracks. Sipp was disciplined for a record 83
rules violations between 1981 and 1982, and plea-bargained five years
on probation plus a fine of $7,500 in 1986 for allegedly participating in
a scheme to kill horses to collect insurance. As many as 41 horses
were killed, according to prosecution documents, but Sipp was indict-
ed in only nine cases.
A government committee has recommended a ban on hur-
dle and steeplechase racing in New South Wales, Australia, after
learning that the races average one injury per seven starters and one fall
per 22 starters. Horses are killed nine times more often in such jump-
ing races than in flat races.
A Citizens’ Advisory Committee appointed last year to
decide what to do about 850 wild horses who live on the 1,675-
square-mile Canadian Forces Base Suffield, in Alberta, on June 30
recommended “complete and total removal of all the horses.” The rec-
ommendation was endorsed by the Alberta SPCA. The Canadian mili-
tary and Canadian Wildlife Service claim the horses jeopardize rare
plants and compete with 173 species of native animals, 29 of them
rare, threatened, or endangered, within a designated National
Wildlife Area occupying about a sixth of the base. But the same could
be said of 2,500 cattle, who graze in the wildlife area, which also
includes numerous oil and natural gas wells. The horses are apparently
descended from some who were released by displaced farmers when
the Canadian military took over the site in 1941. “We are extremely
disappointed, but we aren’t prepared to abandon the horses yet,” said
Claire Flewitt, president of Albertans for the Ethical Treatment of
Animals. Added Tina Zierer of the Animal Alliance of Canada, “We
hope that the announcement meets the same public outcry that forced
the cancellation of the Department of National Defense’s plans for a
round-up in 1992.”
Police are probing a series of sexual mutilation attacks on
horses in Maryland and northern Virginia, closely resembling a
decade-long series that has baffled British authorities.
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