The Valley Equestrian News, April 2012Original article & photos
“It takes a village to rescue these foals,” says Anna Twinney, about her recent gentling clinics for PMU foals in Connecticut and Arizona. It certainly has been a long journey for these young foals that traveled from Canada. Some went to the eastern coast of the USA and others to the southernmost border, all to be part of a great movement of love and concern for PMU, or Premarin horses.
Anna Twinney, internationally known horse trainer, animal communicator, energy healer, author of the “Reach Out to Horses® Clinic” training methodology, Reiki instructor (the list goes on) has been involved in the cause of gentling PMU foals. She works with Equine Voices Sanctuary in southern Arizona, and Equine Angels Rescue and Sanctuary in Connecticut to rescue horses from the Premarin industry. All these rescue organizations are 501(c)(3) non-profits.
It was a love of horses and a desire to help the less fortunate of equines, those that have come from an industry of industrial use, that is, the horses are bred and continually used for the pregnant mare’s urine (PMU) they produce. Hooked up to instruments that harvest their urine 24-7, the horses live a life of tedium, are bred for their continued service and their foals become a victim of the industry, generally ending up in a feedlot in Canada where they are fed and grown before they are harvested for their meat . It is not an easy project to assume but long-time friends, Karen Pomroy, formerly of California and founder and director of Equine Voices Rescue and Sanctuary in Arizona (see Valley Equestrian Newspaper, November 2010) and Anna Twinney who now calls Colorado home, teamed up to do their bit –an English term to match the accent carried by Anna Twinney who is actually from England and has served in many roles including a stint as British police officer. Anna served time exploring natural horsemanship with Monty Roberts at “Flag Is Up Farms” and was mentored by Crawford Hall, and later became one of the first instructors at the MRILC (Monty Roberts International Learning Center).
Another part of this particular “village” is Frank Weller, professionally a documentary filmmaker in Connecticut who also founded and runs Equine Angels Rescue Sanctuary (EARS). He found his way to saving foals when doing a documentary about a woman who was rescuing foals. “I was interviewing a woman who had just saved 160 foals from an auction and did not have enough volunteers. During our break she had to feed and didn’t have enough help; it took us 2 hours,” said Weller. “To me, it was a very special energy, innocent and pure, and how I got involved. The routine in those days was to go to auctions … we decided to go another way. We thought working with farmers is much better, for the farmers and the horses. We would guarantee them the going rate and many farmers were willing to do it.”
“Crossing the border can be difficult so sometimes we use Canadian transporters and meet them at the border. We may have group trailers and bring them back (to Conn.); I’ve had people bring them all from Connecticut. This time we brought them to a farm in North Dakota and we had people go out there to get them, and that is great, it is going to save us. One of the horses got a serious cut and the border veterinarian wondered if the horses should continue. We knew the horse would be cared for. They went to this place near Fargo and got really good care and the people fell in love with the horse and adopted it.”
Of the 16 foals from this one Canadian PMU farm who lost their contract and sold the horses to the “village,” one foal landed in a permanent home in North Dakota, 8 foals went to Connecticut for a foal gentling clinic at EARS where the foals will be adopted and 7 foals went to Equine Voices Rescue and Sanctuary in Arizona for the foal gentling clinic which is the topic of this article and the photographs you see here.
Weller said that in Canada, PMU farms need to renew their contract annually and there is no guarantee their contract will be renewed. “The farms we’ve worked with, we have been able to get them out of the business and stay out of the business. The rescue aspect really uplifts a lot of people – the people transporting, caring for them — and that has led us to believe in our motto: Rescues, Rescue Us! It is a beautiful thing to see. Some of these foals become a part of programs for children with autism or other therapy programs; some of our horses go into these programs and help these children which is so amazingly uplifting for us.”
With the mares it is oftentimes an acclimatizing issue as they have been in Canada for so long that they are happier to go to a sanctuary. “Mares have personalities and sometimes issues with people. Mares that we have been able to save go into a community pasture where they are taken care of by farmers or the community and they give reports from people that work with them,” said Weller. “Twelve relocations of PMU foals are due to family circumstances with children gone and the family can’t care for them anymore. We want to be sure they stay in a good place and we call them twice a year to be sure if things are ok and if they have their spring or fall shots and everyone is on track.”
The work is a win-win situation for the foals and the rescues when Twinney comes to the rescue which has booked the clinics for students of RO TH’s training program. Some of the students came from California and one student was from Africa. “She will bring home the gentling and whispering; she has started a rescue program,” said Twinney. “The Gentling Clinic is part of the trainers program for my students; it’s not open to anybody; it’s a highly specialist field to go into; the foals deserve the best. The rescue is not charged – they get a portion of the proceeds – and for the students, it is priceless in terms of the training they get.”
The foals will be adopted. “There has been some interest, we did a beautiful graduation; there were people expressing extreme interest.”
“I love the variety, that’s where it lies for me;” says Twinney, “to save a life or to improve a life.” Twinney is expecting a child in July and will spend an extra two months at home after the birth. She is booked for clinics a full year in advance.
Learn more about Anna Twinney at these web locations: www.horseconscious.com/teachers/annatwinney http://www.reachouttohorses.com/