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Monday, 30 May, 2022
Every year, at the beginning of the summer months, mares periodically become more and more nervous and bad mood. These behavioural changes are related to the return of their heat. Equivalent to menstruation in women, heat is known to all horsemen. But do you really know the heat cycle of a mare? Do you know what signs your mare is in heat? In this article, we explain everything to you so that you can become an expert on the heat of mares.
The heat cycle of a mare is different from that of a woman. This is how it works:
The mare's cycle extends over a period of 21 or 22 days. It consists of two alternating phases. The first phase is the heat period called oestrus during which she can mate. The second phase is when the mare rejects the stallion and is called interoestrus.
Heat lasts for about 4 à 7 days depending on the mare and are repeated every 3 weeks. However, the mare does not come into heat during the winter period. These only occur from April to October. Why does this happen? Because it turns out that heat is linked to the daylight. As this light is less important in winter, heat is not triggered. On the other hand, when the days get longer, the light increases, which triggers heat. The mare therefore has a seasonal cycle.
Of course, nature being full of surprises, it happens that mares come into heat all year round, but this happens very rarely.
The first heat appears very early, usually between the age of 12 and 18 months. Unlike humans, mares do not go into menopause from a certain age. They undergo a reduced fertility. They go into heat later and their heat may last longer. Their gestation can also last longer. In very old mares, there is even a total cessation of heat with time.
Who has never heard that a mare in heat is more sensitive, more nervous and more capricious when she is in heat? Indeed, mares in heat affect their behaviour in different ways and more intensely from one mare to another.
When in heat, the mare tends to go to camp. This means that she freezes with her back legs spread. Most often this happens when she meets a gelding or stallion. She may also lift tail and put her on her side. A yellowish-white discharge may flow from the vulva and down the mare's thighs. It is common for spurting urine occur. This is why mares in heat are known as "pissers". This is one of the most telling signs that a mare is in heat. You can also note a "blinking" of the vulva of your mare. On the other hand, unlike humans or dogs, the mare does not bleed when she is in heat because her uterine lining only thickens when fertilisation occurs.
In terms of character, she will be more nervous than usual, which will result in neighing, among other things. She may also be more temperamental and irritable when walking or riding. Be careful when caring for and preparing your mare, as heat can cause ovarian pain for your mare.
Once again, just like women, not all mares react the same to their heat and can be more or less sensitive.
As with female menstruation, there is no miracle cure. However, there are ways to relieve the pain and behavioural problems related to heat.
From natural treatments can be used as phytotherapy. Plants such as chamomile or lemon balm or hops can have antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory and anxiolytic effects and help mares to cope better with heat.
Other hormone treatments exist, such as the progressive administration of hormones (on the same principle as contraception for women) in order to stop the heat. This treatment is allowed in competition.
Finally, some may opt for bilateral oophorectomy if heat-related behavioural problems. However, this procedure is not preferred and is most often only used when the mare is in heat. However, this is not the preferred procedure and is usually only performed when the mare has a ovarian tumour.
The heat cycle of the mare is short, so you will have to deal with it regularly during the summer months. You now know the signs of signs of the onset of heat as well as how to relieving your mare if she is not in heat. If your mare's behavioural problems go beyond her heat, find out how vet Eva Jonville diagnoses them in this article.
What if we went further in the health monitoring of your horses? Thanks to CEEFIT Pulse & ECG, you can carry out electrocardiograms and monitor your horse's heart rate during your sessions in order to detect the slightest pathologies and optimise your training sessions, always respecting the well-being of your companion.