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Moody Mares

Can your mare be a devil when she comes into season? Jane Williams, senior lecturer at Hartpury College helps you understand what she is going through.

"Mares are what we call seasonal polyoestrus breeders. This means that they have lots of oestrus cycles within the breeding season which is typically March to September/October.

Oestrogens are the hormones that produce the behavioural and physiological signs of oestrus. In the presence of oestrogens, the mare is more aware of what's going on around her because this is the period when she is going to be receptive to the stallion.

When oestrus is in full swing, your mare will have a lot of oedema and swelling throughout the whole reproductive tract and it is thought that this is the likely cause of discomfort and pain.


The swelling and inflammation in the ridden horse can have an impact on behaviour. This is not so much about where the saddle sits on the horse's back, but is more to do with the pain in the area around the flanks causing general discomfort around her abdomen.

Typically riders might find their mare is being more stuffy about going forward. Putting more leg on can irritate an already painful area causing the mare to back off more and there is an argument that the use of spurs is kinder than constant kicking.

If the rider drives with the seat, this can affect the swollen area behind the saddle and cause a lot of discomfort too. And of course the fact that she is interested in boys and what is going on around her could make her more flighty and less willing to concentrate on the job.

There are several ways to make the oestrus cycle in mares more manageable. Feed supplements are used to mimic the effects of progesterone and reduce inflammation, and as these are not prohibited in competition, they are the first choice of competition riders. In more extreme cases, the veterinary route might include progesterone injections or the use of products such as Regumate which is a synthetic feed supplement which mimics pregnancy and prevents oestrus occurring.

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NAF OestressLogoFor more information on how to manage your moody mare, you can call the Naf advice line on 0800 373106 or visit or email



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