Holistic Horsekeeping Newsletter March 2017

March 2017

Nutrition for Hormone Support in Mares

Holistic Horsekeeping
How to have a healthy happy horse.
Volume 22, Number 3

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In This Issue:

1. Nutrition for Hormone Support in Mares
2. Holistic Learning Opportunities

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1. Nutrition for Hormone Support in Mares
The estrous cycle (time from ovulation to ovulation) of the mare lasts 21 days. The estrus or heat of the mare lasts 5 to 7 days. The ovary is undergoing profound physical changes during follicle development as the mare experiences the hormonal effects of increasing estrogen levels. Normal follicles can grow as large as 10 to 12 cm. Ovulation occurs 24 to 48 hours before the end of estrus. Bleeding at the time of ovulation is normal and may in some cases be significant. Ovarian hematomas can be as large as 15 cm. Persistent follicles can reach 10 to 15 cm and these occur during the transition period during the spring and fall. Persistent follicles can last up to 60 days.

It is a challenge for a mare to stay in training through a normal estrus with all the changes occurring in her hormone levels and ovaries but most mares handle it. If a mare has nutritional issues or extreme periods of stress she may be less able to cope with normal estrus patterns. High carbohydrate diets have a negative effect on hormone levels. High blood glucose levels cause an increase in insulin levels. Increased insulin leads to the formation of excess body fat. Excess fat in the body increases the production of estrogens and androgens. These excess hormones can be part of the cause of irritable behavior in mares.

High insulin levels also increase the production of pro inflammatory eicosanoids, such as prostaglandin F2 alpha which can cause a shortened diestrus period. An imbalance of pro-inflammatory omega 6 fatty acids and anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids will increase the overall levels of eicosanoids. Deficiencies in vitamin C, vitamin B6 and magnesium all favor the overproduction of pro-inflammatory eicosanoids. Beta carotene is an essential nutrient for ovary health. Extreme stress results in the over production of cortisol, which also increases pro-inflammatory eicosanoids.

Signs that a mare is uncomfortable include:

  • Swishing her tail
  • Reacting to touch
  • Resisting having her girth tightened
  • Soreness in the lower back or flanks
  • Leaning against walls or posts
  • Colic signs

If these symptoms are related to the mare’s cycle they will appear and disappear in conjunction with her cycle every 16 to 21 days. If the symptoms are constant then there is probably another or multiple causes for the behavior.

Many people are quick to reach for a drug to suppress estrus but it is possible for a healthy mare to come into heat without discomfort that will prevent her from performing. Even healthy mares can occasionally have some discomfort during estrus and being aware of this and adjusting the training schedule is all that is needed.

Many estrus problems are related to Liver stagnation and supporting the liver will balance out the hormones. A 10 day course of milk thistle is a good way to support the liver. Dong Quai (tang kuei) is another great herb for liver and hormonal balancing. Herbal products that provide some pain relief as well as liver support such as SweetMarePlus or RelaxHerBlend can be given when needed.

If a mare is performing strenuous exercise such as jumping, racing or cutting they may have a tendency to pull air into the vagina. This can be very irritating and homeopathic remedies, such as sepia, may tighten the vulva tissue or in some cases a caslicks procedure can be done to seal the upper part of the vulva to prevent air sucking into the vagina.

Mares tend to be sensitive and temperamental so they are not the best choice for every rider. They can also be harder working than geldings when they have a good bond with their person. Treat them with respect and they will perform well, even when in heat.

2. Holistic Learning Opportunities
At Holistic Horsekeeping we have a way to learn about caring for your horse holistically for everyone and any schedule. From courses to books to ebooks to audios, everyone can learn a variety of topics that will give a deeper understanding of horses and give you a happier, healthier horse.

The self-paced online course is open to anyone interested in learning more about the Horse Temperament Types. It was created to share information about the eleven Horse Temperament Types as explained by Madalyn Ward, DVM. If you want to learn more about determining the temperament type of your horses, this course is the one for you. You can sign up and find more information at http://horsetemperament.com/class.html.

If nutrition or homeopathy is more what you are looking to learn about, take a look at the individualized Mentoring Program to get one-on-one instruction with Madalyn Ward, DVM.

Then see a wide range of topics covered in the books we offer, audios, DVD’s, and ebooks.

 

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