By VIVIAN GRANT
If you spend any time around Frank Weller, founder and President of Equine Angels Rescue Sanctuary, or enter into any type of communication with him, the phrase “rescues rescue us” will turn up sooner or later. Most likely it will be sooner.
~ Vivian Grant, Founder and President of the Int’ Fund for Horses
Interview Part 2 of 2 with Frank Weller
The PMU foals it is the mission of Equine Angels to rescue have been bred with no other purpose but to keep mares pregnant so their urine can be milked to make hormone replacement therapy drugs such as Premarin(R), Prempro(R) and Premphase(R) for the treatment of the symptoms of menopause. These drugs have generated who knows how many millions of dollars for pharmaceutical giant Wyeth and its predecessor, American Home Products, since the 40’s.
The foals produced to make the Premarin(R) family of drugs are expendable as far as the industry they come from is concerned, and most find themselves at auction on the way to a grisly death by slaughter. It has also been reported in the past decade that some are even shipped live to Japan to be killed for their fresh, young meat to make sushi.
How many have been martyred. How few have been spared. It is not surprising, then, that the ones who do live, who are rescued with great love and devotion, have a quality that can only be described as magical. Let there be no doubt. They are magical.
Weller, who does not spend time dwelling on how the foals came to be, but rather on saving as many of them and their mothers as he can, talks about the very first foal he rescued, how the experience impacted his life, and I venture he would not contradict me when I say, changed his life forever.
Toby was my first rescued Premarin(R) foal that I sent across the border from Canada. He changed my life in many ways, but I think you really remember any first time experience. Toby, short for Manitoba, his birthplace, was adopted by me as I was helping Helen Meredith from United Pegasus foundation. It was 2001 and I was helping Helen sort out 160 foals who had come from a slaughter auction.
A Belgian and Quarter Horse cross, Toby was also a Paint horse with a tri-colored mane. We really connected when I first met him at about 3 1/2 months old. He was remarkable to me among all those horses because of his character and, as I’ve seen happen over and over since then, he found me. He had been through the traumatic auction process and I could see he was looking for his mom. He needed me as much as I would come to need him.
Toby crossed the border into the USA on the morning of September 11th 2001 at the very time of the terrorist attacks in New York City. I was relieved to hear from the transporter that they had made it from Canada through the border before it was sealed off on that fateful day.
During the following days in September when normal life was in limbo, spending time with Toby was the best therapy that I could have had. I learned, very personally, how “rescues, rescue us”. We helped each other make it through those rocky months and when Toby turned 1 year old the following May, I looked back and could see how much we had helped each other to heal.
When Toby was three, he would make me look brilliant by mimicking the gates of his pals as I would call out to trot, canter or walk, even on his first trail rides. Smart, athletic and a trusted companion, Toby showed me what a valuable family member Premarin(R) horses can be. His rescue taught me what I would need to know to complete many more successful rescues and adoptions.
The people who keep EARS in operation would like to expand the training element of their rescue mission.
After rescuing from slaughter, adopting into loving and forever homes, they feel that each rescue relationship can benefit from more training options. They have employed the exemplary services of Anna Twinney, a natural horsemanship trainer, and plan on more of her clinics. Equine Angels also hope to develop training videos specifically for the foals.
We would also like give adopters exposure to EGALA and other types of hippotherapies. Ultimately, we would like to work with people in need of having horses for physical or psychotherapy. To do that, we would need a riding center and so we wish for the land and structure necessary to provide a therapy center where the horses would help people.
Equines rescued, rescuing people. Those are the possibilities Weller sees when he thinks of “horse” these days. I see the connection and how “horse” heals those along it’s rescue journey.
I hope people see the bigger picture of those rescue relationships and for me it is an honor to be a part of the equation. Many times people thank me, but I am thankful just to be a small part and witnessing how horses and people help each other.
For people considering starting an equine rescue or sanctuary, Weller has this to say:
If this is an idea that appeals to you and you want to start your own rescue, I would advise that you think it through very carefully. Professional advice is a must from horse trainers and veterinarians to accountants and lawyers. Learning your limits is the hardest part for many and learning to say “NO” is also an important asset. It is easy to say, but not easy to do. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses and being honest is a must. A great resource about starting rescues is a book by J R Wise called “Giving Horses A Second Chance” on Lyons Press.
Right now their biggest project is the recent rescue of 15 new foals from slaughter. They have been taken from Canada to Connecticut and need foster and adoptive homes.
For those of you who would dearly love to help, but starting up an equine rescue or sanctuary is not in your future, or you never anticipate owning or rescuing a horse, you can still be involved by sponsoring a foal while he or she awaits his or her adoptive home.
As a 501(c)(3), we can offer a tax donation letter for your contribution. Mailing a check to Equine Angels Rescue Sanctuary at 214 Candlewood Mtn. Rd, New Milford, CT 06776 is the easiest way right now. Soon we will have Pay-Pal buttons for donations on our site. Another way to “donate” is to buy the book “Equine Angels: Stories Of Rescue, Hope, and Love.” It makes a great holiday present and all my compensation goes to the horse rescue.
Ray of Light Farm, Rescue and Animal-Assisted Therapy Center
Photography for Equine Angels and of Frank and Toby by Donna Cloutier.