We are well into summer here in Texas but other areas of the country are still in spring. Mares are starting to cycle and it seems they tend to have more issues in the first few heats of the season. 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
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 RelaxHer Blend 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. Madalyn