02-22-2012, 10:31 PM
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I was reading from Why Does my Mare Always Act Likes She is in Heat and Act so Witchy for Most of the Time?
And I quote Submissive Behavior The submissive behavior involves leaning away from a perceived threat. These mares typically go to the back corner of the stall when you enter or when another horse passes. If the mare is cornered, she might swish and wring her tail and squirt urine. This behavior sequence in the mare is analogous to the leaning away, clamping of the tail, and urination typical of a puppy or of a severely submissive adult dog. In mares, it often is the combination of the leaning, the tail action, and the urine squirting that remind people of estrus. On racetracks, this cowering behavior in fillies is sometimes called "starting gate estrous." But, of course, it's not really estrus. How can you tell whether your mare's behavior represents estrus or this submissive behavior? True estrus in the mare involves leaning toward the stallion; submissive cowering involves leaning away from the stallion or any threat. The tail action of estrus involves a relaxed movement and lifting of the tail; the cowering sequence involves a wringing and active swishing of the tail. In the estrous sequence, the mare approaches the stallion. She will linger and eventually "break down" into a wide, squatting stance. She might flex a foreleg and turn her head back to gaze at the stallion. Her posture seems to tell the stallion she is not going anywhere and will not resist. The submissive mare looks like she's trying to escape, and if she is cornered, might fall down or run over the stallion. In the estrous sequence, the urination is either full stream, or as the supply is depleted, might be just small spurts. Another distinguishing aspect is that submissive cowering and urination can be elicited by any threatening situation, while estrous posture and urination usually are more pronounced in response to a stallion. We always like to evaluate these mares with a stallion, as well as in a variety of situations in which the mare interacts with people and other horses. If the problem turns out to be submissive cowering behavior, and the mare's general physical and reproductive examinations reveal no other problems, then the most efficient approach to relieving cowering behavior in a mare involves good old horsemanship. The goal is to systematically re-acclimate the mare to the work and associated environment. Some trainers find it useful to give the mare a break for a few months with gentle handling before gradual re-entry into a full training program. For mares in race training, long-acting tranquilizing regimens have been judged as useful, with the reported positive effect of a general mellowing of the mare. Urogenital Discomfort Another cluster of behaviors that easily can be mistaken for estrus are caused by urogenital discomfort. Frequent tail lifting, urination, and/or straining as if to urinate can be caused by any type of perineal or vaginal irritation or discomfort. Vaginitis, bladder infections, bladder stones, urethral lesions--just about anything irritating could be making the mare act in an unacceptable or "grouchy" way. In racing fillies and mares, air aspirated into the vagina (pneumovagina) can be irritating enough to affect training and race performance. With these mares, it is common for the behavior to intensify with work. To add to the potential confusion, the behaviors of urogenital discomfort can intensify with any sort of disturbance or social challenge, such as being pushed to work a bit harder, or in social interaction with other horses, particularly teasing by a stallion. It stands to reason that if a stallion approaches, a mare suffering vaginal irritation might show intense signs of discomfort, even if she is not in estrus. How can you tell the difference? One common telltale sign that tail lifting and frequent urination or straining might be discomfort rather than estrus is that the cluster might include kicking at the abdomen and other mild colic-like signs. It is rare for a mare in estrus to kick at her abdomen. Just this month, a popular equine reproduction list server had some related discussion. The initial posting was entitled "Psychotic mare." The mare was described as having developed a pattern of showing "estrus-like" behavior most of the time. Her race trainer was frustrated with her unwillingness to work whenever she was around other animals. The mare's symptoms seemed to be more intense every 20 to 21 days. Hormone treatments given to control her estrous cycle had failed to improve the situation. The specific behaviors listed included some behavior that looked similar to estrus, but most that suggested discomfort. Some key behaviors mentioned that pointed away from estrus and toward discomfort were "kicking and squealing." Katrin Hinrichs, DVM, PhD, formerly of Pennsylvania's and Tufts' veterinary schools and now at Texas A&M, has over the years followed a number of such cases. In evaluating these mares, the first things she looks for are possible vaginal, bladder, or urinary tract problems that could be causing irritation to the mare, especially during work. For example, young, thin Standardbreds in training might aspirate air into the vagina, which can be quite irritating. This irritation can cause the mare to pull up or stop during training. Sometimes extreme irritation of the vagina is manifested by squatting, tail switching, and frequent urination. Hinrichs also has seen mares with similar behavioral signs turn out to have bladder atony, urethral tumors, or bladder stones. A similarly memorable case was a mare which the rider described as showing frequent estrus. In her stall or under saddle, she frequently would lift her tail and urinate or strain as if trying to urinate. She walked with a stiff back and wide, tentative hind gate. Initial examinations indicated that the mare had a normal reproductive tract and estrous cycle. Her actual estrous behavior was quite normal and reasonably distinct from this other behavior, although this behavior seemed worse when the mare was truly in estrus. Some careful detective work revealed that this mare had a sliver of a tree branch deep in her vagina, with resulting inflammation and infection. As expected, the behavior problem resolved once the discomfort was eliminated. These cases and many others like them raise an important question: If the root problem is not estrus, but rather discomfort, then why does it seem to get worse on a regular cycle that in some cases would correspond to the length of a mare's estrous cycle? The extreme example is the occasional case in which an owner complains that a mare is lame only when she is in estrus. When in diestrus she seems sound. One possible explanation comes from a growing body of scientific evidence indicating that changes in estrogen and progesterone predominance across the ovarian cycle can affect physical condition. For example, under the influence of estrogen predominance during estrus, supportive muscles relax compared to during diestrus, when progesterone predominates and effects good supportive muscle tone. A minor lameness might be more apparent (as well as truly more uncomfortable) during estrus compared to during diestrus. Also, evidence from work in other species indicates that the ability to tolerate discomfort varies with the cyclical changes in hormone levels.
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Interesting, very interesting