nurse mares

Pony Skin Foals

While I was in Florida, I received this letter from one of my readers:

“My name is Elle, and I absolutely loved your book, the Outside of a Horse! I was wondering if you could let me know where you obtained the statistics in your Author's Note? The statistics about the number of foals born annually (and being killed to avoid the stud fee), and the deaths per every 1,000 starts are the stats I am specifically interested in. I am writing a paper on how to improve the horse racing industry, and I would like to include the appalling statistics of cruelty to help persuade readers. Thanks so much!”

The statistic—about foals being killed to avoid a stud fee—came from a very well-known, downright famous writer friend of mine. Her sister worked in the racing industry and told her about “standing foal,” the practice of deeming a newborn foal unsuitable, by racing standards, and killing it before it stands, thus avoiding the stud fee. I found my notes from that interview, but deemed them too “word of mouth” since I couldn’t re-locate the online site I used to confirm the practice. Lucky me (and you), I came across another, just as despicable.
Using a nurse mare is a common practice in the thoroughbred industry, partly because horse racing rules dictate that mares have to be bred by live cover. (Not artificially inseminated.) This has created an industry of nurse mare farms that breed mares, and replace their newborn foals with expensive, thoroughbred foals to nurse. This frees the thoroughbred mare to be shipped for re-breeding or, if she’s racing, right back to the track.

What happens to the nurse mare’s foal? They are left to die, shot or clubbed to death, or fattened up, and at age six months, can legally be sent to slaughter. (There are YouTube videos of this, if you can stomach watching.) The meat of young horses is prized in many countries, such as Japan. (Tempted to cast stones; we eat veal.)
This is just one of the rescue groups dedicated to saving as many of these ‘by-product” foals as they can.

A pony skin foal is another name for a nurse mare foal born so a mare can provide milk to a thoroughbred foal born for racing, or for show. The nurse mare industry is huge, but I couldn't find any statistics on how many foals are produced, and killed annually. A lucky few are rescued, some are sold at auction, others are killed on the spot with a bullet or a club. Whether they end up on a dinner plate in Japan, as dog food, or are killed and skinned for high-end leather products, the nurse mare industry is a disgrace.

And here’s a site with more info on nurse mares
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And are you proud of your genuine shell Cordovan leather couch, or in your car? Most leathers come from cows, but Cordovan comes from horses. It improves with wear and polishing, and is tough as a horse’s butt.
Do you take the Premarin brand of hormone replacement? Pregnant Mare Urine. The fate is the same for their foals, unless a filly is born. She might be permitted to live and follow her mother into the "pee line" where the hormone rich urine is collected during the last six months of pregnancy. Six months tied in a stall, standing in your own feces, with a bag and hose attached to your ureatha.
And for Elle's paper, here is the site that tracks racetracks deaths.