Managing a moody mare

If, on occasion, your mare turns into a hormonal, buck-throwing, super-fresh handful at, our three experts are on-hand to help. Read on for their advice.

Advice from vet Gil Riley

As Gil explains, some mares can become very aggressive and flighty when they’re in season. “The first thing a vet is likely to suggest for a mare like this is a progestogen called altrenogest, which is widely used in a veterinary product known as Regu-Mate. It works in a similar way to the human pill in that it stops the mare’s cycles, and it’s one option that can be very effective in a large number of horses.

“The second option is the insertion of a sterile marble in through the cervix into the uterus. This tricks the mare’s body into believing she’s pregnant and this stops the cycles. The marble stays in there long term and, again, I’ve seen a lot of success with this method.

“In a small number of cases, year-round aggressive behaviour, especially where the mare shows almost stallion-like behaviour, may be due to a granulosa cell tumour. This is a benign tumour that produces a mix of hormones. It’s rare, but something your vet may well check for, especially if Regu-Mate or a marble insertion doesn’t solve the problem. A simple blood test can be taken to confirm the presence of this tumour.

“The final option is to put the mare in foal – but this isn’t a practical option for many.”

Advice from holistic therapist Dena Schwartz

“Spring can be a challenging time for many mares – their hormones are racing and they have one thing they need to do and that’s procreate,” says holistic therapist Dena. “In the wild mares would do exactly that and then spend the next 11 months blissfully pregnant.”

 Dena advises that offering certain herbs and oils once or twice daily can help a moody/mareish mare. “Allow your mare to decide which ones she needs, and how much of each she needs, as allowing her to control the dosage will give the best results.

“Red clover and liquorice root help to normalise hormone function, chamomile flowers will help her to feel calm and ease any discomfort, and nettle leaf is a gentle uterine tonic. You can get these herbs from www.naturaequine.co.uk

“Next, add three drops of rose otto, three drops of geranium and three drops of vanilla extract into small separate bottles of passion flower oil. Offer each one for her to inhale or simply lick from your hand.

“Most importantly, be understanding and tolerant of your mare – hormones are powerful things and can effect all of us in extreme ways.”

(For more advice from Dena visit www.animalaromatherapy.co.uk)

Advice from behaviour expert Andrew Kerr Sutherland

“Common sense is key when you’re riding and handling an extremely hormonal mare,” adds behaviour expert Andrew Kerr Sutherland. “You need to be conscious of your mare’s seasons and the fact she could suddenly become highly irritable as she comes into season; and be vigilant as to who she’s turned out with. Ideally she shouldn’t be around any males, especially a rig or stallion as this will make things ten times worse. However, she also shouldn’t be turned out with a dominant mare as this can cause even more problems and could end up in a fight.

“Some mares can spring into season unexpectedly, so make sure your horse’s home life is as chilled as possible to help bring her cycles back into place. But bear in mind that this can take up to two years depending on the mare.”