For more than 60 years, the connection between horses and women's health has led to the development and manufacture of a medication for women seeking relief from their menopausal symptoms. Throughout the years, equine ranchers in Canada and North Dakota have collected pregnant mares' urine (PMU) from which estrogens are extracted to manufacture this important therapy for millions of postmenopausal women.
In October 2003, Wyeth, the pharmaceutical company that purchases PMU, provided funding of $3.7 million (U.S.) to establish the independent Equine Placement Fund, Inc., (EPF), a discretionary fund which provides subsidies for the cost of certain veterinary checks and transport of PMU horses to approved sales for productive markets and qualified buyers. This program, one of many Wyeth began in stewardship of the horses, has been extraordinarily successful in its first year.
As of Nov. 15, 2004, the EPF had assisted with the placement of more than 13,500 horses from PMU ranches into productive markets. The successful placements of horses from PMU ranches are a reflection of the quality of the horses and the added value of EPF subsidies.
"I've been buying and selling PMU horses for the past year or two because of their size and overall quality," says Darrell Beverly, a repeat horse buyer. "Plus, because the EPF, Inc. helps with the moving and veterinary costs, I can get good horses at good prices."
Horses placed with assistance from the EPF are purchased for a number of uses, including ranch and farm work, sport, pleasure, trail riding, and specialty programs like police horse programs. In addition, one of the newest markets for PMU mares is in embryo transplant recipient programs because of the mare's proven value in breeding programs.
"With assistance from the EPF, ranchers can take their horses to sales or ship to buyers in a much larger area--it opens up new markets for the horses," says Norm Luba, executive director of the North American Equine Ranching Information Council (NAERIC), which is based in Louisville, Ky.
"This has been a very successful program. I've seen horses moved from Canada down to buyers in Georgia, California, all over the United States," added Luba. "With breeding enhancement programs in place and ranchers who care for these horses, we will continue to assist in placing more of these horses in productive markets."
More information on equine ranching, as well as buying opportunities, is available on the NAERIC web site, www.naeric.org or by calling 502/245-0425.