Thursday, November 15, 2007

To paraphrase Jay Leno...

Jay Leno once said "It's not that everybody on the Internet is nuts, it's that all of the nuts are on the Internet." Well, sometimes I think the same can be said of the horse industry!

Woman on tractor tried to slam cops, police say


POUGHKEEPSIE - A Union Vale woman was arrested for attempted assault during the evening hours on Wednesday after she allegedly tried to run police officers down with a tractor.

The Dutchess County Sheriff's office responded to 1927 Bruzgal Road in Union Vale on Wednesday evening to assist the Dutchess County ASPCA on a warrant to seize horses from the location, police said.

Upon arrival, Sandra Kistner, 62, became violent and uncooperative toward both deputies and ASPCA officers. Police said Kistner ultimately attempted to run officers down with a tractor.

Kistner was taken into custody. There were no injuries as a result of the incident, police said.

Kistner was charged with first-degree attempted assault, a felony. She was remanded to Dutchess County Jail in lieu of $25,000 cash bail or a $50,000 bond.

OK, so apparently this wacko bitch has been running a scaryscaryscary "nurse mare" operation for years and the humane authorities finally caught up with her. So she tried to run them over with a tractor. Nice! If you google her, you can find her ALL OVER the Internet posting like she's some kind of freakin' authority on mare and foal care. Um, maybe she's a pro at starving them - you have to be doing quite the job of that before the ASPCA shows up with a seizure order.

This is a good opportunity to discuss the "nurse mare" industry in general. Early this year a friend of mine lost a mare to a torsion colic when her baby was four days old. We googled and found some kind of "nurse mare network." How great, we thought! We thought it was a service to match up mares who had lost their foals with foals who had lost their moms. It honestly never occurred to us (damn, 30+ years in horses and still naive) that it was an equine rent-a-center, asking thousands of dollars for the loan of a lactating mare whose own baby had been, so they said, pulled off of her early in order to get her into the cash-producing rental string (OK, they didn't say it quite that way but that was the gist of it!). After we heard the base cost, daily cost, additional costs, etc. we decided we would give Little Squirt a try on the milk replacer. After an interesting first evening of syringing milk replacer into a colt that was already showing phenomenal jumping talent by jumping over the top of us, Little Squirt figured out how to drink from a bucket. At 8 months and 13.2 hh, I'm thinking he suffered no ill effects.

Nevertheless, this did cause me to do a little more research into this odd little corner of the horse world. Turns out there are entire rescues devoted to cleaning up the colossal mess made by the less-ethical nurse mare providers. Here's a page explaining how the nurse mare industry works. Here's another. Still more - a pretty good FAQ on this page. And that rescue is actually trying to link up motherless foals with foal-less mothers as a public service, too!

While I'm sure some of our discussion today will be from those of you who have had prior experiences with Ms. Kistner (doubt that's the first time she's chased someone with a tractor), the other thing I'd like to discuss is the ethics of the nurse mare industry in general.

If a foal can be raised perfectly fine on milk replacer and milk pellets, and given that there are other alternatives that do not create an orphaned foal, such as putting 2 foals on a quiet old mare who is a good milker (a friend of mine used to do that every year to get her show mare back in the ring and it worked out fine for the mares and the foals), or actually finding a mare who has genuinely lost her foal to natural it ethical at all to pull apart a mare and her foal just so that some other baby can benefit from natural milk?

Has anyone actually proven that a foal raised on milk replacer will not perform as well as an adult as a foal raised on mare's milk?

I understand how much money is at stake with a high dollar foal, but I still think there are better ways to deal with an orphan other than creating another one. What do you think?