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1. A normal mare comes into season in the spring and summer and not in winter and exhibits all or none of the following behaviour changes when in heat: being difficult, frisky, awkward, cranky, distracted, dull, unresponsive and domineering. Also squealing, frequently peeing, upholding her tail, spreading legs, crouching and having a winking vulva.
2. The length of a horse’s cycle is 21 days and there are 7 frisky months with cycles and 5 quiet months with no cycles.
3. Signs of heat may be more obvious when stallions are around. Quiet shy mares generally show fewer signs of heat, dominant mares greater signs of heat. Stress also tends to lessen signs of heat.
4. An abnormally moody mare – abnormally hormonal – exhibits the following signs: in heat more often than normal or has cycles in the winter, difficult to tack up, unable to take part in competitions, too difficult to manage when in heat even with good management practice and upsetting all the other horses in the paddock.
5. Hormonal imbalance is often the cause of moody mare abnormal behaviour which may be caused by over-eating plants like clover and legumes containing chemicals which mimic hormones. But the more likely causes are man- introduced and not part of the horse’s natural environment. Polycarbonate plastics can strongly affect hormones and are used in drinking water containers. Many foods are packed full of hormones and even oats and carrots contain some oestrogen. Some people believe ingredients such as soya can cause problems.
7. Your horse vet is the best person to advise on the varied approaches. Some of these are: use a progesterone-like medicine which makes your moody mare think it’s pregnant, injections to remove cysts, surgery to remove ovaries, and insertion of marbles in the womb to mimic pregnancy.
8. Herbal supplements are a great way of helping your moody mare maintain normal levels of comfort and calm. But a hormonal soother should not be used in pregnant mares and those due to conceive.
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