Tuesday, October 26, 2021



The Nurse Mare's Tale is in a way the prequel to Dinky: The Nurse Mare's Foal, as it tells the story of Dinky's mother.

This lovely story is told from the viewpoint of two aging nurse mares about to give birth, and the trials they go through. It tells us of Sadie and her friend Nellie and is accompanied with charming dialogue (both speaking and thinking). The plight of these animals is described in empathetic detail.

After enduring years of breeding and loss, the older nurse mares must face the auction with the promise of being slaughtered, as they have become too old for breeding and thus unable to be rented out as nurse mares to feed the foals of the high-dollar mares.

Do they accept their fate, or will there be another ending for the nurse mares that have given everything and received little in return?

The ending may surprise you. It is a poignant story that will rip your heart out and put you back together again.


Winnie Award Winner at the Equus Film Festival. Dinky: The Nurse Mare’s Foal is the story of one little foals fight for survival after being taken from his mother within hours of his birth. Dinky, takes us on a poignant trip through the heart and mind of an animal, who was born for the sole purpose of producing milk in the mare. In the elite world of horses, Dinky was considered a by-product, a ‘junk foal.’ Dinky’s story will resonate with animal lovers, as well as anyone who has adopted. Although a horse, his story has been called an adoption story. The reader can follow him through the heartbreak, cruelty, loneliness, and finally to happiness in his forever home. His story is based on true events. Each event from the moment the author met Dinky actually happened, though it is the author’s interpretation of what he might have been thinking and feeling during the occasions described in his story. His early life which is unknown has been fictionalized by the author and constructed through research and imagination. There are many wonderful animal rescue leagues, many are very empathic to these young animals, though some are not. Since Ms. Bishop has no knowledge of Dinky’s early days she used the latter to enhance the strength of his story. It will break your heart, open your eyes, lift you up, and teach you much about horses. It is suitable for all ages.

Jade Lazlow
5.0 out of 5 stars A Touching, Informative Story Inspiring Change

Reviewed in the United States on November 18, 2019

Verified Purchase
The Nurse Mare's Tale is told from the perspective of a horse named Sadie, who is placed in servitude to feed other mare's horses with her milk. Like many of Marta Moran Bishop's stories, this book takes an unflinching look at the problematic things we sometimes do in society in pursuit of profits. In this case, it's the equine industry and the practice of using nurse mares.

Nurse mares are bred for the sole purpose of providing milk to more "desirable" foals, such as racehorse foals. Their own foals are often treated as throwaways in the industry. The industry maintains that the practice is necessary, while equine rights activists condemn the practice. Throwaway foals are sometimes slaughtered, and the mares themselves are often repeatedly re-bred with little opportunity to properly heal. There is a huge profit incentive for thoroughbred farmers to use nurse mares in raising their foals.

Before reading The Nurse Mare's Tale, I knew a little about the industry and the lengths it goes to in order to maximize profitability, pushing the boundaries of humane animal treatment. Mares are sometimes kept under artificial light 24/7 early in the spring to influence their reproductive cycle, for example. Bishop's book raised my awareness of issues to a new level, and at times, it was difficult to continue reading for that reason. Horses are sentient beings and treating them as if they aren't is disturbing.

It's important reading, however, because it raises awareness of the treatment of these beautiful creatures on whose backs fortunes are made. Awareness of the issues is the first step in cultivating positive change.

Bishop's book is beautifully written, and she weaves in factual information in such a way that it comes across as a natural narrative. The lessons she presents are artfully delivered through Sadie's eyes.

Readers who are sensitive to the plight of animals or who want to know more about the horse industry will find this book deeply moving. At times, it is touching, and at other times, it's sad. Regardless, its message is an important one.

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