Mares and being in heat, some mares are not bothered by it at all and some mares are extremely bothered by it. We are regularly asked if we have anything against mares being in heat. And our answer is short and to the point: 'No!
In this blog, we will tell you why we're not a fan of supplements for mares in heat.
Mares being in heat is part of the deal!
Every mare should experience heat if she is not pregnant. From about March to October, heat should be visible. With a long autumn, the heat can start a bit later and with a long summer it can last a bit longer. But in general, there is no heat during the winter period. A mare's cycle lasts 21 days on average, which means she will be in heat every month. Especially in early spring, it can sometimes be more intense.
What kind of mare behaviour is normal during heat?
Every mare is different and reacts differently during her heat. In that respect, they are like people 😉. But urination, being dreamy, bulging the back, squeaking and being a bit sticky on the leg are normal types of behaviour for mares in heat. This is usually more intense for a few days and much less intense for the remaining days. Some mares also get some cramps during ovulation, which can cause mild colic symptoms.
Extreme heat = imbalance in body or head
Most mares have a normal heat and are a bit different in their behaviour for a few days. But as a mare owner, you are used to that because a mare is different every day. They are not geldings who are always stable/flat in their emotions. It's a daily review of what you ask and how you are going to ask it. During the days of heat, this is no different!
Mares that urinate extremely much, become aggressive or show other abnormal behaviour during their heat are out of balance. This can be something physical, but also something mental. This "problem" can't be solved with a supplement or medication. After all, that is treating the symptoms and not solving the imbalance. Wrong housing, stress, an unstable herd, wrong nutrition or, for example, a cyst on the ovary can cause imbalance. It is therefore important to first analyse and figure out the reason for the intense heat. Has your mare just moved? Then an extreme heat can be a kind of extreme behaviour because she doesn't feel safe and is trying to connect to the new herd. If your horse is under a lot of stress due to the wrong way of training or housing, this can also cause a hormonal imbalance. But wrong feed (silage/haylage, fertiliser, lots of grains, etc.) can also cause an imbalance in the body and hormones, which can upset the cycle.
Find the imbalance and solve it first!
Does your mare have extreme heat? If so, start by looking for the imbalance in her life. Maybe this is easy to find out because she has just moved, in which case it is a matter of giving her time. And sometimes it is more difficult to find and it is advisable to have the vet check for physical discomfort first. A few tips for a "normal" heat:
- Provide a stable herd with few changes
- Provide the right feed (no haylage/silage and no grains)
- Avoid chronic stress due to improper training, management, etc.
- Check for physical discomforts
Supplements & medication are the last step
Supplements and medication actually throw the cycle into disarray and prevent the horse from following her natural rhythm. This has consequences for the mare's entire life, as she can no longer be who she really is.
If, after physical check-ups and ruling out stress factors in her life, a mare is still in extreme heat for a long time, only then is it an option to use supplements or medication. Then, please, choose a natural supplement in the first instance, for example pure monk's pepper, and only at a later stage a chemical medication. But in our experience, almost all mares can come into balance and then have a stable, normal heat. And yes, even then you still need to adjust your training for a few days now and then. But that is part of the life of keeping horses, be flexible and keep listening to your horse!
Therefore, with us you are not going to come across a supplement for mares in heat. Too often, these are used for the convenience of the owner and not in the interest of the mare. Our advice is always to take care of balance first, give the mare time and only look at herbs once all that has been ruled out.