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Could my mare be in heat?

From: Barb

HI Jessica, I would like to first of all thank you for the wonderful advice you have shared with many readers. Although I have had many horses over the years (had them for about 20 years, then was away from them for another 20 and now have my first 'new' horse again), I continue to love to learn more about our wonderful equine friends.

My question to you is this: I just moved my 8 year old QH mare about a week ago to a new stable and I have noticed 'weird' behavior in my girl since I have moved her. Nothing harmful or serious, but it sure has me wondering. She will stomp her rear feet (almost like something is irritating them, but she will also lean over with her tail slightly lifted, sometimes almost stepping on one rear hoof with the other one (almost gives you the idea she is trying to cross her rear legs or something). Her feet are cleaned daily and I check her for any signs of heat/swelling, etc... that might be causing discomfort and have found nothing.

A very interesting and important side note to this situation is that she is in the same barn as two male horses... one a two year old colt and the other one a 12 year old stallion. She seems to exhibit this strange posturing when I bring her in from the turnout area. I have not noticed her doing the stomping when she is outside. She does however, do a lot of whinnying, but I have not found this surprising since she is also adjusting to a new stable. I think she may be in heat, but am not sure. I have never noticed this stomping before, but she has never had to share a barn with the 'boys' either. Is it possible this is a new way for her to be exhibiting heat behavior since she is now in the same barn as two male horses? Her appetite is good, she doesn't seem to be in any pain, but I am wondering if maybe I should call the vet in to make sure everything is okay. Have you ever noticed this type of behavior in a mare that is in heat? It is a first for me. Thanks for everything and I really appreciate any feedback or suggestions. Barb

Hi Barb! Thanks for the kind words, and welcome back to the wonderful world of horse ownership!

It's always a good idea to have your vet take a look if your horse is behaving strangely, but I think you've analyzed this situation accurately. Many mares don't show heats, or show only very subtle signs of being in heat, as long as they are stabled with other mares and geldings. Some mares will show to geldings, some to other mares, some to a fence post, the barn wall, etc.... but your mare may be one of those who goes into full heat and shows clear signs only in the presence of a stallion. I own one of those mares myself, so the phenomenon is quite familiar to me. It sounds to me as if your mare is quite normal. She's adjusting to a new stable, and she's also adjusting to a new form of social stimulation. She's probably extremely aware of both the twelve-year-old stallion and the two-year-old colt. Do have your vet check her, just in case there may be something else going on, but I expect you've figured it out.


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