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Mare with a problem: strong heat cycles

From: Sharon


I just read your article on this subject and I am just now doing research. Here is what I know about my mare. She IS dominant (does twisty neck all the time). Her trainer said she has a VERY strong heat cycle. I find that when she's in season, she is more "concerned" or "emotional" about her decisions and viewing new things on the trail.

When she's not in season, she's like riding an old ranch gelding. I am 62. I love her when she's not in season.

I talked to her trainer and two vets. All three stated that they felt her strong cycle gets in the way of her thoughts (being a better horse) when we pass other horses on the trail or they are running along side in their corral, or I am riding with others.

My mare is an 8 year old large MFT - drop dead gorgeous blue papered palomino. But, I will sell her if I can't fix this problem.

What do you think? Sharon

Hi Sharon! Some riders simply don't like to ride mares, and if you've reached this point, then perhaps selling her mare IS your best option. But since you seem to enjoy her very much whenever she isn't cycling, and since your trainer and two good equine vets agree with your theory that your mare has strong cycles and that her behaviour changes for the worse when she's cycling, I think that you should consider a few options other than selling her.

From the subject line of your letter, I'm assuming that spaying is one of the options you're presently considering. It's certainly worth thinking about - after all, your mare is only 8, and you could have many more good riding years together.

There's usually a reason when a horse appears distracted or "emotional" - and since you're seeing this when your mare is cycling, I think you may be interpreting her behaviour through a personal filter (we ALL do this!) and seeing her as a female with PMS. This would be a mistake - it's infinitely more likely that she is in pain, and reacting accordingly. Horses in pain very often appear to be depressed or distracted, so if you think that you're seeing those emotions in your mare, pain should be the first possibility to consider. Some mares experience pain from a ripening follicle; some mares experience pain from ovarian tumours. Whether the mare exhibits violent or stallion-like behaviour, or whether she just becomes cranky and fussy and much less fun to ride during her cycles, spaying would certainly be a logical way to put an end to the problem. If he behaviour is caused by any sort of pain associated with the estrous cycle, then spaying her would put an end to her estrous cycles and therefore put an end to that pain. If you love everything about your mare EXCEPT her behaviour when she's cycling, and if you have no intention of breeding her, then why not talk with your veterinarian(s) about the surgery?

If you'd prefer to try a non-invasive alternative therapy, there's a product called Regumate (synthetic progesterone) that can be administered orally. This product is often used by owners who want to keep their mares on an even keel during show season or racing season, but it's costly and inconvenient, and used primarily for mares that are scheduled to become broodmares after their racing or show careers come to an end. For mares that will not be bred, surgery makes better sense.

If you're not quite ready to deal with the expense of surgery or the expense and inconvenience of Regumate, you might have good luck with some of the herbal remedies that contain black cohosh.

If you try herbal remedies and get no joy, and try Regumate and find that you don't like this way of managing the problem, you will probably decide that surgery is the most appropriate choice, but that way, by the time you schedule it, you will KNOW that you've tried the other available options. ;-)

Good luck, and I hope you manage to keep your mare. You seem to be very fond of her, and it would be a pity to have her painful estrous cycles put an end to the good relationship that the two of you appear to have.


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