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Woman rescues horses, finds a passion

  • Dana DiRicco, Lake County resident who rescues Percheron horses, who were being bred in terrible conditions for their urine used in Premarin, a female hormone replacement. Dana has since become very interested in Percherons and has several on her ranch in Lake County (she also has a place in Healdsburg). She has recently published a memoir about her rescue animals, her relationship with them . Percherons, very large horses initially used by mounted knights and whch later became popular draft animals.

The book she has written is, says Dana DiRicco, an "adventure story." But it also is a classic underdog story, of how one woman rescued an unwanted horse with an uncertain future, turned her into a champion and found a new passion in her own retirement.

When Hera arrived at DiRicco's Healdsburg ranch along with three other adopted Percherons, she and the others were unruly and untamed.

All of the horses were expendable byproducts of the drug industry.

Their mothers were on "the urine line," kept pregnant solely for the urine they produced, which is used in the production of Premarin, a human hormone-replacement drug. Most of the resulting foals are sold into often uncertain futures.

But DiRicco saw particular promise in one of her first four rescue animals, a young dappled-gray draft horse that she quickly dubbed, "My Blue-Ribbon Girl."

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