FOUR: Real Horse Rescues continues with Equine Advocates' Susan Wagner--if you missed the start of our interview with her, be sure to check out Episode Three on YouTube, starring a camp horse, a carriage horse, and a very famous racehorse, among others!

In this second installment, Susan Wagner continues her enlightening discussion on the current circumstances of equines in the U.S., focusing on the often untold stories of mustangs and burros, PMU mares, and mules. These equines, less visible to the public than thoroughbreds or show-horses, are a special passion for Equine Advocates.

We meet Hayden and Nelson, two Wild American Mustangs, rescued from Montana and Nevada, respectively. "What’s happening to wild horses and burros in this country is a tragedy. They get rounded up and separated from their families and that’s quite traumatic for wild horses. They are run down with helicopters. This is all at the [US] taxpayers' expense," Wagner explains. Considered a pest animal, the government's policy is to chase horses off the land and auction them to the highest bidder--most often those who are in the business of transport to slaughter, where they can sell the mustangs for meat and make a profit. She continues,"these two guys are our ambassadors for the wild horse issue, and it gives us the opportunity to let people in this part of the country get to see what these majestic animals look like. But truly, they belong on the range; that’s their home, and the idea that they’ve been uprooted and captured, separated from their families, is an American tragedy. We hope that one day we will have a Secretary of the Interior who will appreciate who they are, and allow them to live out their lives on the range."

We meet Annie, a young, former PMU mare. For those who aren't familiar with the term, PMU stands for "Pregnant Mare's Urine", and much like pregnant cows tied in to mechanical stalls to pump them for dairy, PMU mares are locked by the thousands into industrial barns to collect their urine. Unbelievable? It's true. Susan Wagner walks us through the history of PMU, used pharmaceutically as a hormone therapy for menopause. Despite numerous studies proving the significant human health risks caused by the use of PMU, drugs continue to be produced domestically and globally, putting women at risk of many damaging side effects and torturing countless mares, hidden from view.

Wagner goes on to introduce us to Hank The Tank, who she describes as "one of the most wonderful animals I have ever been around."  Rescued by Equine Advocates, along with seven other mules standing at a notorious slaughter auction in New Holland, PA, Hank has lived happily in Chatham for over a decade. "Rescuing mules is very important to us. I heard somebody call them ‘The Forgotten Equine’… A lot of the people that use these animals for work don’t want to pay for a veterinarian or lay them up, so they would rather take them and trade them in for another one; kind of like a used car. When Hank was rescued, he was somewhere between only 8 and 10 years old." Raised on a farm and traded in for slaughter before he had even reached half of his lifespan, Hank was a little traumatized at first. Wagner shares that with mules, "once they understand that they are safe and loved and in a great home, they are the best. You know, I would recommend people adopt a mule, or rescue a mule… They do live quite a long time. They live as long as horses, and maybe a little bit longer. This guy is in his mid- to late-20s, we have a mule here who is 34."

Summing up the many faces at Equine Advocates, the ethos of the rescue, and Susan Wagner's personal experience as a rescuer, "the only way we are going to help every horse, and that includes mules, is to end horse slaughter. That is the answer to the question, because you have to take away the option of slaughtering horses. Then you will see far fewer horses and other equines bred, with much more thoughtful breeding practices, unlike what we have now."

To learn more about Equine Advocates and meet the lovely equines described here, tune in to Episode Four, now streaming on YouTube.


TWO: Real Horses Rescues visits Catskill Animal Sanctuary in Saugerties, NY, a Hudson Valley hub for equine rescue, and … on the day of our taping – equine adoption! Settled on a 110-acre expanse of fertile farmland, CAS, founded in 2001, is a haven for horses, donkeys, chickens, pigs, and many other rescued animals. To date, CAS interventions have saved over 3,500 animals from abuse, neglect, and slaughter.

In this episode, CAS founder, Kathy Stevens, passionately articulates her thoughts on why animals matter, and why we should care about the quality of their lives. In a compelling conversation with host Susan Kayne, Kathy conveys with wit and wisdom, and through tears, real stories of saving lives, advocating with love, and saying goodbye. 

RHR arrived on a busy day, as KATYDID and MONTY were shipping out to new forever-homes and BRUTUS was getting prepped for the same. This was the first time CAS had three back-to-back equine adoptions. Kathy credits their adoption coordinator, Erin Murphy, who spends time assessing and counseling individuals and farms interested in caring for a rescue horse permanently.

Stevens describes a glorious childhood surrounded with horses. She grew up in Virginia on a thoroughbred breeding and training farm. After teaching in a traditional classroom for 11-years, Kathy made the choice to follow her true call and opened the doors of CAS in 2001 -- her first rescue, a horse, of course.  

As we walk about CAS, a group of school boys are on a tour, and the ‘underfoot family’ is living up to their name. Stevens introduces to many new sweet souls, each with a unique personality and astonishing history. She also vividly remembers the horses who meant the most to her who have since passed on like Buddy, the inspiration for her book, Where The Blind Horse Sings, and Max who she describes as horse you could have led right into your living room.

The work of running a Sanctuary is exhausting and times seemingly endless as the needs are so great. Stevens says, “It’s been a long time since I’ve had a day off. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything." 

Susan Kayne | Brutus | Kathy Stevens
Watch on You Tube: https://youtu.be/CZJzjcgVs6g

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ONE: In Real Horse Rescues' premiere episode, host Susan Kayne visits Little Brook Farm, hidden away in picturesque Old Chatham, NY. Originally founded by Lynn Cross in 1977, seventy-five horses of twenty different breeds call Little Brook their home. Cross and her daughter, Summer Brennan, run the rescue today, and were gracious enough to let us film the magic as students from Abram Lansing Elementary School of Cohoes, NY, take a field trip to the farm.

Since 1986, Lynn Cross has opened the gates of Little Brook to children and the hearts of those children to horses. Over eighty schools, agencies, and organizations have taken trips to meet the rescued horses, and adding up to 2,000 individuals each year. She and Brennan, an accomplished rider and graduate of Cazenovia College's Equine Business Management program, have developed a proven approach to rescue that saves equine lives, trains horses and riders alike, and educates the public in their outdoor classroom on the humane treatment and protection of animals.

Watch as the children move from shy curiosity to friendly fascination with their new friend, Hamlet. An unbroken 5-year old, Hamlet was hardly ready to be ridden when Summer rescued him. Yet, he had been leased to a children's summer camp for an entire season by his previous owners. Once the season was over, he was being discarded for slaughter when Little Brook intervened. After many years partnering with Summer, Hamlet is as gentle as they come. Our young friends clamor to pet his nose and neck after Summer and Lynn collaborate on an educational riding demonstration. Students get an opportunity to ride themselves, as well as working in teams to learn barn chores, groom, clean tack, and to go for a hike on the farm. Many of Little Brook's visitors have never met a horse before, spent time on a farm, or experienced the therapeutic relationship humans can have in the service of animals.

Our first episode closes with a Wishlist presentation from Dover Saddlery in Latham, NY, who generously provided an abundance of everyday equine necessities for Little Brook Farm.

Riley | Summer Brennan | Susan Kayne

Watch on You Tube: https://youtu.be/ZFsc9Tkqhyg
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