In early September, the usually serene and peaceful atmosphere of Ryerss Farm for Aged Equines, in Pottstown, PA, is transformed into a spirited playground upon the arrival of 50 new foals. Even after their long journey from a ranch in North Dakota, the energy of the new foals quickly spreads across the 113 year old farm–the Ryerss aged residents seemed to have added a youthful spring to their step.
“Each year we look forward to the arrival of the foals. The added excitement is a refreshing change of pace for staff, volunteers and our equine residents,” said Joe Donahue, President of Ryerss Farm. Within a few short weeks, the foals all have been taken to their way to new homes and the quiet had returned to the farm.
The foals are part of an annual farm project which unites the northeastern horse community in finding the best possible homes for select foals from a pregnant mare urine (PMU) farm in North Dakota. Ryerss Farm, in cooperation with the North American Equine Ranching Information Council (NAERIC), hosts a NAERIC PMU foal adoption program–encouraged by both the growing interest from potential buyers and the success stories of past adopters.
These foals are unique because of the circumstances surrounding their births. PMU (pregnant mare’s urine) is used to produce a hormone replacement therapy, one of the most prescribed types of medications in the United States. Used by women to alleviate the symptoms of menopause and to prevent osteoporosis, the drug is produced from estrogens found in the urine of pregnant mares.
Many of the area equine publications help spread the word by running advertisements and promotions to encourage experienced horse owners to consider adoption. “We have wonderful industry support for this program,” Donahue said. “Everyone wants to help.” When applications forms are returned from prospective owners, the farm staff and volunteers carefully check the references supplied to determine the best homes for the foals that will arrive in the fall.
“We are very particular,” said Donahue. “They must have previous horse experience and an appropriate place to raise a foal. These foals are absolutely wild. They have not previously been handled at all. We don’t want to spare them from an auction situation out west only to have them end up at an auction in the east. We check references and call veterinarians to find out everything we can.”
Teresa Jascob, a representative of Ryerss Farm, traveled to North Dakota to select foals for 30 pre-arranged buyers. She also selected 20 foals to be sold after they arrived at Ryerss. The group came from a variety of breeds and backgrounds, from Paints eligible for registration, to leggy draft crosses. Teresa chose a handsome group of refined foals with solid conformation, suggesting promising futures for these young horses and their new owners.
“I was very impressed with the quality of the foals for sale and the obvious pride the rancher took in breeding and caring for them,” Teresa said.
Generous donations from some of the country’s leading manufacturers have helped to put the foals on a path towards healthy and active lives. Long-time supporter of Ryerss Farm, Purina Mills, Inc. has provided a coupon for each new owner that can be redeemed for their foal’s first 50-pound bag of Equine Junior?. For the second year, every adopted foal will also receive a bucket of Strongid? C, donated by Pfizer Animal Health. Fort Dodge Animal Health has, for the third year, generously donated a complete set of first vaccines for the foals and their initial dewormings with Quest?.
NAERIC is a nonprofit association representing horse breeders and ranchers in North America engaged in the collection of PMU. They have a number of programs in place to market quality horses born on these ranches to buyers throughout North America. For example, the NAERIC Incentive Program can double the winnings of enrolled horses at selected events. NAERIC’s Web site, www.naeric.org provides more complete information about the organization.
Ryerss Farm intends to repeat the adoption program in 2002. Those interested in applying for one of the reasonably priced foals at Ryerss may EMAIL, visit the web site at www.ryerss.com or call 610-469-0533 for more information. Watch for additional information about past adoptees on the Web site.