I had to admit to Victoria that I had been stalking her for almost ten years.
Of course, I used the word ‘stalking’ in the most flattering way possible. Really a better word would have been ‘following’…but anyway…
My first experience with Victoria’s organization, Last Chance Corral, was at Equine Affaire in Columbus, Ohio. The reason I remember it so clearly was because my first reaction was near outrage at seeing someone with such a young foal at such a big event…without his mother.
There was no way I was leaving without the full story so I directly approached the foal and handler. I calmly asked what the foal, obviously very young, was doing here and where his mother was. That was my introduction to The Last Chance Corral, founded by Victoria Goss.
That’s when I began stalking following the website and whenever I could, watching them at Equine Affaire. I had a strong desire to learn more about the strength of this rescue group as well as their effectiveness, outreach, and overall approach to horses and humans.
During my research phase I learned that the organization has a passion for rescuing horses of all ages. They rescue on average 75-100 full-grown horses during the year as well as 160 plus foals. The youngest of the rescues draw the most emotional reaction from people, myself included.
The Last Chance Corral website, videos and Facebook page do a great job explaining in detail what they do and why. I will insert my small experience here.
My first knowledge of a nurse mare came from a customer that I trained horses for. They had been involved in the equine industry for longer than I had been alive at the time and during a conversation they mentioned that once, one of their mares had died leaving them an orphaned foal.
“What did you do?” I asked.
“A friend told us to rent a nurse mare and gave me a contact in Kentucky.”
She then related to me how the nurse mare had been delivered to their home in Ohio and explained that the person delving the mare had helped introduce the mare and foal. When the foal was weaned the mare was returned.
Then the subject of the mare’s original foal came up. It was explained that the nurse mare farm was set up to handle ‘orphaned’ foals. They had the knowledge, the staff and the facility that the average horse owner lacks. Part of the fee charged to lease the mare went to insure that the foal was cared for.
I would like to think that emergency situations were the only times that nurse mares were used but that isn’t true. It also isn’t true that a mare MUST have a foal to become a nurse mare.
Yes, it is possible to have a nurse mare, a mare that is lactating, without the mare producing a foal. Lactation can be induced by chemicals also. I spoke with farm employees who kept entire herds of mares hormonally/chemically monitored by a vet to ensure the availability of nurse mares without the ‘by-product’ of a foal.
But it comes at a financial cost. It isn’t as cheap to have a vet monitor and regulate hormones on a group of mares when you could breed them and forget about them until you needed them.
I will ask this one thing of you if you have read this far; remember that inside of any large group or industry the odds are that there will be some scum. Please remember that the presence of some scum doesn’t condemn the entire industry.
The bottom line is that:
1) there is a demand for nurse mares
2) there are good farms who do right
3) there are bad farms who do wrong
Victoria is here to catch the slack for group three.
Victoria was a no-nonsense, direct speaking woman and I know this from personal experience. I called Victoria in October 2013 to ask some questions and to see if I could stop by….but I left out my name:)
Victoria answered my questions and didn’t waste any words.
I liked her.
Then I went to visit her.
It was really funny! I still hadn’t told her my name and when we pulled into the lower driveway we were informed by some ladies that Victoria was in the house. We thanked them and pulled out of the lower driveway into the upper drive that led to the house. I later learned that one lady turned to the other and said, “That chick is a DEAD RINGER for Stacy Westfall….”
Up at the house it was time to confess to Victoria and all who I was and why I was there; I wanted to help.
How can I help? Victoria answered almost without thinking.
“Spread the word.”
Curious, I asked why spreading the word was the first thing she thought of and her answer made sense; the rest will follow.
She isn’t shy about the biggest need as far as the foals go either; homes. The faster they find homes, the more Victoria and the team can rescue. She tried to get me to adopt during that first phone call when she didn’t even know my name….lol.
I was, and am, impressed with the dedication that Victoria has shown to horses and I am not alone. In 2001 the American Veterinary Medical Association selected Victoria Goss to receive the AVMA Humane Award in recognition of humane efforts on behalf of animals and exceptional compassion for animal welfare.
There are several things I have in mind that I would like to do for the Last Chance Corral but I know what the first will be. Spread the word.
Will you help me?
The Last Chance Corral Facebook page currently has 25,455 likes. It deserves a million.
By clicking ‘like’ on their Facebook page you could help save a foal, a friend of a friend could be the the next person to adopt.
Lets aim for 50,000 by this time next Sunday. What do you say? Like them and spread the word. Some of these little guys have grown up and become amazing adults…but more on that in another post.
P.S.- If you are interested in adopting please read the adoption policies page of the Last Chance Corral website.
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So find these guys and FINE the dickens out of them! Get them where it hurts. Or put them on a third strike you’re out type judgement that if they are caught doing it again they face jail time. Last I knew animal cruelty, (and yes I believe this qualifies as it puts the health of the foal at extreme risk) was a felony nationwide. Book ’em Danno!
Stacy, I highly respect you & have watched you at Equine Affaire as well as at Michigan’s MHC Expo so I’m surprised that you wholeheartedly support this organization that lists this on it’s website: “Because the Jockey Club requires that mares be bred only by live cover, and not artificially inseminated, the mare must travel to the stallion for breeding and may be shipped as soon as 7 days after giving birth to a foal, but a period of 3-4 weeks is generally allowed. In general there are a number of reasons why a nurse mare may be called upon. Traveling is very risky for these newborn racing foals, and insurance costs are prohibitive for the foal to accompany the mother to the stallion farm. Many farms do not want their high dollar foals at a strange farm, and many stud owners do not welcome a foal to come along with the mare. Separating the TB mother and foal is necessary to get her rebred as soon as possible. At this point a nurse mare is hired to raise the Thoroughbred foal while the mother goes and gets re-bred. In order to have milk, the nurse mare had to give birth to her own baby. When she is sent to the thoroughbred breeding farm, her own foal is left behind.” Please note that this has NOTHING, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with nurse mares. Please see this article on nurse mares from the Paulick Report. http://www.paulickreport.com/news/ray-s-paddock/nurse-mares-four-legged-mary-poppins-to-the-rescue/ Ignorance and/or misinformation being posted about someone (yourself) that is so highly respected about the racing industry is VERY damaging. As you stated, there are SOME wicked people in EVERY horse sport. We try to weed them out, but spreading misinformation doesn’t help our industry.
I love the link to the article that you shared…but I seem to find that it confirms the ‘markets’ demand for nurse mares.
Direct quote from your article:
I completely agree with you that there are very bad and very good people in all sports. Is your issue with Last Chance’s web quote the fact that it could be read to sound like all TB farms do it? I agree it could be read like that, which could be considered misleading, but otherwise the facts remain the same as quoted in your article.
another source of unwanted foals are from mares in PMU production lines. People in Canada need to search for PMU foals. There are many up there.
I live in Canada and am very interested in adopting a foal and have been following their work for sometime. do you have any advice or knowledge of crossing the border with a foal or if the LCC crew would even allow that?
I don’t know but if you give LLC a call they can tell you!
[…] When a nurse mare is given to an orphaned foal, sadly that causes her foal to become an orphan. To learn more about what happens to the nurse mare’s foal, please read here. […]
I volunteered there with the OU western equestrian team this year. One of my friends/ teammates even adopted her horse “Buddy” from them the next month! lol
Will definitely spread the word about these guys! Thanks for sharing!
cant read this with the overlay on the side. impossible. Id like to learn what this ” nurse mare ‘” situation is. Iv heard of PMU mares. But not this.
Darlene-sorry about that. Not sure how to fix it for your. Here is a link to The Last Chance Corral website, http://lastchancecorral.org/foal-rescue/adoption-policies
I got my baby when he was 6 months old had him for 13 years and the circumstances I had to sell himand it totally broke my heart I am so ready for another baby maybe 2 it’s been hard to live because they mean so much to me I have about seven acres and I have a loving caring live for our horses I live near Springfield Missouri
I am a Hocking College student that lives not far from Last Chance, every experience I have had with Victoria has been a heart-warming and good one!
In fact I am now training a 4 year old quarter horse that came from Last Chance as a foal. He sure does have a personality and loves attention! First horse up to you out of the field and always willing to please!
One of the issues that always came up during my work in rescue was that by cleaning up others’ messes, aren’t we enabling them to continue their shenanigans? What is being done to stop these unscrupulous groups to continue this practice of creating foals and then dumping them?
Tammy-I had the same reaction. The biggest issue with putting a ton of pressure on the ‘scum’ farms, that I can see, is that the foals will simply disappear…if you catch my drift. How do you regulate people who operate outside the rules? I am totally open to suggestions here.
I have some suggestions for the nurse mare foal issue. 1) People who have a need for a nurse mare should see what really happens for them to get ahold of a nurse mare. Full on EDUCATION and they should have to pay for the DISplaced foal’s rehoming and their milk replacer. This education needs to come from VETERINARIANS for they surely see many mares each year who give birth and they need to urge prevention of animal homelessness. See these owners that need mares to fulfill a role for their orphaned foals need to MAN UP and see what the risks are for another foal or they should be taught how to raise their foals just as the nurse mares’ foals are treated. I find these other owners that need nurse mares as either uninformed or greedy. So THEY need to be the ones that have the heaviest cost. For every nurse mare that is “rented out” the rescues should be given a GENEROUS donation if they have to take any foals on.
2) If someone needs a nurse mare then they could just ship their foal to the mare with her current foal. Horses can successfully nurse 2 foals. It has been done.
3) For every nurse mare that is rented there should be extra fees to the city/county/state for the product that the mare is producing and it should be regulated heavily by veterinarians/inspectors for animal abuse and guideline (such as limits on how many consecutive births a mare can have in a certain time period.)
4.) Lastly horses need to be de-listed from the Livestock listing and re-listed as domesticated companion pets. (This will add slaughter protections.)
Yes there will be people who go underground, but there are alot of folks out there that could work for their local region to be inspectors (their jobs would be paid for by these farms that lease mares out.And rightly so) but they can be ferreted out with a little bit of detective work (also paid for by these farms as assets can be seized if they do not pay). Putting these “puppy mills” out of business is possible.
This unregulated breeding is atrocious and the homes that are available are becoming oversaturated by other horses needing homes. The “horse industry” as a whole needs to take a good hard look at themselves and stop this backwards “business” these are living breathing fellow earthlings not toys that can be kicked to the garbage can or the yard sale bin when it is convenient to them. Any breeder that kills a single foal for their greedy purpose bears the weight of their greed and that is also as it should be. Any benevolence shown to help is great but the pressure cannot be sustained currently by the good folks. The call to action must be swift and absolute – no excuses.
These are viable solutions, I am not the only one to say this. It is on just about everyone else’s mind as it pertains to rescues. The hemorrhage has to be stemmed. Legislation is needed because obviously people who should have used their heads have instead abused the privileges of all. It didn’t take long for mankind to screw this up too. We cannot be tugged by our heart strings if we don’t give them to these people freely.
Thoroughbred mares are separated from their foals for the 2-3 hours that it takes to be rebred. They are not, I repeat NOT introduced to a “nurse mare” for something of that nature. “Nurse mares” are ONLY used for emergency situations, such as if the foal’s mother dies or rejects her baby or some such emergency situation.
The solution to the orphan foals from the nurse mare industry is using hormone induced lactation in mares to produce milk without producing a foal. Our organization has been successfully using this for6 years and bonding foster mares to the orphan nurse mare foals. We have been promoting this to nurse mare farmers and also TB farms and those that would rent a nurse mare. It is much cheaper and easier than keeping a pregnant mare and foaling them and trying to place the foals.
Hi Stacy, do you know if there is a similar situation in Australia? I have to admit my reaction was mixed when reading this, both distress at how humans can be so vile and yet heartfelt awe at the amazing people like Victoria, thank for another well balanced perspective Stacy and YES I will be sharing.
I’m not sure. Thanks for sharing!
Happy to spread the word about this great organization. Just wish I could adopt one (or several) foals!
I’ve had the honor of working with Last Chance, Victoria and the “crew” for years and have placed horses through her. What an amazing woman with such a passionate commitment to the most vulnerable. Thanks for putting the information out there and supporting LCC’s goals and activities.
I’ve been following Last Chance Corral for the past year or so. I don’t hesitate to share their information but living in PEI, Canada, it is difficult for me to adopt a foal, when we have so many horses here that need rescuing. I now have 3 rescued horses and a pregnant cow rescued from the kill buyers. I have the room for more but I’d like to have a horse who is a rescue for a change. And since there is only me looking after them, I can’t take any more.
Stacy, why are there so many foals? Are most orphaned or are they unwanted? What an incredible story. Wish I was a little closer, but will help spread the work, especially since I am from Ohio, but live in CO now. Thanks for bringing awareness<3
Hi Stacey. I am in Canada, Ontario to be exact, and have never heard of such a “place” if you will. I will like and share their page on my Facebook page. A small offering for those involved but all I can do for now. Wishing everyone, four legged creatures included, all the best!
What a fun job they have. I wish you were around here, I’d help you out.