The mission of United Pegasus Foundation is to identify abused and/or neglected equines, help to rehabilitate them, facilitate adoptions and educate the public regarding the need to help these horses.
The United Pegasus Foundation believes that no thoroughbred should be denied a second career or a dignified retirement. Now in our 21st year of service to the thoroughbred industry, we have adopted hundreds of former racehorses into loving homes and know that together, we can make a difference and save lives.
ABOUT ADOPTING FROM UPF
UPF currently has several horses available for adoption. These horses can be viewed on the ADOPT page. Please remember: all horses adopted from UPF must never again be raced, and all future transfers of the ownership and contract must be approved by UPF prior to transfer. Approval will not be unreasonably withheld.
To read the stories of UPF’s “graduates” as told by the families who adopted them, please visit the GRADUATES page.
United Pegasus Foundation was created in 1994 by Helen Meredith, an avid equestrian who was moved to start the foundation after viewing a news story on the feedlots of Southern California. Watching once-prized winning racehorses being discarded and sold by their owners inspired Helen to begin the rescue effort in her half-acre backyard.
In 1995 Helen learned about the PMU (pregnant mare urine) industry, which is responsible for the constant breeding of mares for the purpose of producing pregnant mare urine, an ingredient in the drug Premarin. Helen began making rescue trips to Canada to save foals, the offspring of the pregnant mares before they were sold to meat buyers.
A SECOND CHANCE FOR THOROUGHBREDS
A small percentage of all thoroughbreds that are bred to race actually make it to the track and an even a smaller percentage that are raced make it past 4 years of age. Many trainers and breeders know they can place a lightly-raced, totally sound, flashy-colored gelding or mare off the track or they can use a stallion or mare for breeding purposes. However, countless racehorses see an end to their career because of an injury – sometimes a small, healable injury like a bowed tendon or pulled suspensory. Horses with a more sever injury that need more time and money on rehabilitation. These horses often find themselves passed along or discarded because it is not worth the time and effort, as well as the money to put them back together sound. Occasionally horses race until they are ten with no injury, but because they are on the older side, it is not easy to find homes for them. Since they cannot go to the breeding barns, these unwanted horses are usually geldings, making the majority of UPF’s horses geldings. Approximately 34,000 thoroughbreds foals born in the US every year, that leads us to believe that 34,000 come off the track each year.
Several of our retired racehorses (mostly geldings) made more money at the racetrack than most of the high-end breeding stallions around the country, a few of them winning over one million dollars during their career. But because they were not breed able” they were discarded once they could no longer race. UPF believes these horses deserve a humane retirement.
We work hard to rehabilitate off-the-track thoroughbreds, but many of the horses at UPF have injuries that prohibit them from ever being ridden again. UPF provides these horses with constant care and a safe environment at our ranch in Tehachapi, California.
WHAT IS A “PMU” MARE?
For decades, Premarin was the most popular drug in the United States, with millions of women taking the drug to treat menopausal symptoms. Because Premarin is made with estrogens extracted from pregnant mares’ urine (PMU), thousands of mares were used to produce this bitter pill, contributing to the unnecessary over breeding of horses.
From October to March, the pregnant mares live in the "pee barns," forced to stand in stalls with urine collection devices strapped to them. The stalls are deliberately narrow to prevent pregnant mares from turning around and detaching the collection cups. In April, the mares are led out to pasture to have their foals and then are re-bred. A few fillies are kept as replacements and the rest of the foals, sometimes as young as two months, are rounded up and taken to auction where there are often meat buyers’ presents.
The manufacturers of PMU drugs would like us to believe that every single foal born as a result of these pregnancies is sold to be used for companionship, recreation, ranching, shows and competitions – what they call “productive markets.” The fillies sometimes grow up to replace their worn-out mothers.
Premarin has been one of the most highly used estrogen replacement hormone for women in the pasted, which meant that thousands of foals that were the by-products of this industry ended up going for slaughter and their meat shipped to Europe and Japan for human consumption.