My mare, Ricci, has been acting very strange lately. I first noticed the difference Monday night. I got to the barn at about 815 to feed the girls, and I noticed Ricci was particularly "droopy." My horse is never "droopy." She had her nose to the ground, and just looked exhausted. She would even sit there with her nose in her grain bucket, not eating.
My first thought was the heat. It has been pretty hot the last few days, at least hot for here. It was in the upper seventies and it wasn't very breezy or anything. And I thought maybe she wasn't drinking enough water for how hot it was. Before anyone rags on me, my horse has access to about 100 gallons of water throughout the day. There are buckets in all the pastures and in her run-in stall to the barn.
Apparently, Ricci is also in a flaming heat, and that could explain her mood swings. Now, I can never tell when Ricci is in heat. It's not my lack of knowledge or anything, she just doesn't get mood swings, or behaves any different than she does on an average day, so her being in heat like this is, in itself, confusing and very unlike her. So she keeps peeing, and standing there like she is going to pee but isn't. Her udders are also swollen, and she can be "milked" although she is almost always milk-able.
So she has been following this fine in the morning, droopy at night pattern. Since she keeps peeing, I imagine she is pretty dehydrated, especially since it's been so hot and sunny, so in the evening she isn't feeling so great. I am pretty sure that that's the problem, so I'm soaking her grain. I was also thinking about hosing her down as often as I can to help keep her cool. And yes, she has access to the shade as well.
I started her on corn oil about a week and a half ago and while I don't think that the oil is the cause of this, it's the only thing that's changed, and the only thing I can change again so I'm going to take her off it for now to see what happens.
I'm also very concerned about the being "in heat." Like I said, it's very unusual for her to be like this. In the three years I've had her, she's never been like this. She is 17 now. Is it normal for a horse's cycle to be inconsistent? I know a woman doesn't have to be, but is that ok with horses too? Do horses ever hit a "menopause" stage, where they stop coming into heat? If so, when should I expect it? I also had a vague idea of giving her something like an anti-inflammatory? It's not something I necessarily want to do, but could it help with anything? Make her more comfortable?
Another thing is the bugs. For some reason, the bugs SWARM poor Ricci. She gets welts every once in awhile too, usually a bump no bigger than a thumb nail. They aren't tender or anything. Could the bug bites be a cause for the "droopiness?" Maybe an allergic reaction? Can I give her an antihistamine? Like Benadryl? Or is there something else that would be better? I'm hesitant to give her a medicine that makes people drowsy. =|
I'm just at a loss. Has this happened with any of your horses, or a horse you know? Any input would be greatly appreciated. Thanks. And sorry for the long post.