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How to Deal With a Mare in Heat

Mares are seasonally polyestrous, meaning their reproductive cycles occur at certain times of the year.



Learn about a mare’s reproductive cycle.

Mares are seasonally polyestrous, meaning their reproductive cycles occur at certain times of the year.

Keep a daily journal of your mare’s behavior.

During the course of one reproductive cycle, your mare’s behavior will ebb and flow. Recording her behavior—the good, the bad, and the ugly—each day will help you estimate where she is in her cycle, especially when she is in heat. Make recorded observations specific. For example, instead of writing ‘She misbehaved,’ write the details of her bad behavior (‘didn’t follow instructions,’ ‘tried to kick’).

Identify which behaviors may be associated with being in heat.

Mares can display a range of behaviors during their cycles. Behaviors associated with estrus include elevating the tail, ‘winking’ the vulva (vulva opens and closes), and squirting urine and mucus during a squat. A mare in heat may also decrease her overall activity level.

Take your mare to your veterinarian.

Discuss hormone therapy with your veterinarian.

Hormone therapy is a great way to deal with a mare in heat, particularly if her heat-related behaviors are negatively affecting her training schedule or ability to compete. Progesterone has been shown to be the most effective hormone to suppress a mare’s heat, but estradiol (a form of estrogen) and oxytocin can also be effective.

Give your mare progesterone.

Naturally, progesterone is highest during diestrus. The synthetic form of progesterone will keep your mare in diestrus and prevent her from entering estrus. The most common form of commercially available progesterone is Regu-Mate, a daily synthetic progestin.

Add estradiol to your mare’s hormone therapy.

On its own, progesterone may not be very effective in reducing your mare’s irritability or other behavioral issues when she is in heat.

Consider giving your mare oxytocin.

Oxytocin is another hormone that can prevent your mare from coming into heat by keeping her in diestrus. It is an injectable formulation that should be given twice a day for 14 days after your mare has ovulated (your veterinarian can help you make that determination). Oxytocin can keep your mare in diestrus for up to 30 days. She would likely tolerate the daily injections because of the small amount of drug that you would inject.

Explore non-hormone therapy options.

There are some other therapeutic options for dealing with a mare in heat. For example, you could give your mare herbal supplements. However, herbal supplements have not undergone rigorous scientific testing, and can have variable effectiveness. They may also violate medication rules in sporting associations, so check with these associations before giving your mare herbal supplements.

Select easy tasks for your mare to perform when she is in heat.

When your mare’s hormones are surging, it will be difficult for her to focus on tasks that she would normally be able to do quite easily. In addition, she will not want to be as active when she is in heat. For these reasons, you may need to adjust your mare’s work schedule when she in heat.__

Do not approach your mare from behind.

With your mare being extra sensitive to touch while she is in heat, especially near her hind end, avoid approaching her from where she cannot see you.

<a href="/Groom-a-Horse" title="Groom a Horse">Groom</a> your mare from front to back.

Depending on your method for grooming your mare, you may need to readjust it while she is in heat. If you do not do so already, begin grooming her at her neck and shoulders, where she will probably not be too sensitive to your touch. Slowly and carefully, work your way back to her flank.

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