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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys!

I’ve recently purchased a 5 year old mare. She’d been alone for a year and so she hasn’t noticeably been in season while the owners had her. I brought her to her new agistment where there are some handsome fellows which have definitely brought her into heat. I’ve never had experience with a mare that has noticeable behavioural changes caused by their oestrus cycles and I want to know if this is normal.. considering she’s been very sweet with no signs of biting or issues with mounting up until now (well for two months)...

About a week and a half ago she started trying to bite at my leg when I mounted, but once on she was fine until about 20 mins in where she seemed very uncomfortable. I hopped off and she took a while to pee. I had the same issue about a week later.

Two days ago (I haven’t ridden her since due to weather) she was biting at my leg and licking her stomach as soon as I stood on the mounting block and nickering very audibly at me. I got on and she was behaving very poorly in a walk and reared up. I decided she must have been sore and got off once she was behaving.

Today I didn’t even try to get on. The moment I stood next to her shoulder and pretended to get on she was kicking out, trying to bite, nickering very audibly, and mostly strangely licking her stomach and between her back legs (some real yoga positions going on).

She lunges fine, it’s just the moment she thinks I’m going to get on. I highly doubt she’s just trying it on, it definitely seems pain related.

Is this a thing, or could it be something more sinister (ulcers?)? I figure I’ll give her a few days and see how she goes but I’m wanting to hear if others experience such a big change, and if it’ll be like this every time or if it’s like my own period, and some months worse than other months.
 

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While a horse may display behaviors commonly displayed during heat another horse will not bring a mare into heat. That would be like saying that when you walk by someone you find attractive you automatically ovulate. Not happening. There is a cycle and the hormones have to each get in line and do their job before a mare goes into heat. That takes time.


It is summer in your part of the world? If she has been there a while then you could be seeing estrous with painful cysts developing or ulcers from the stress of being around new horses and change. While you won't have a horse suddenly be in heat with introduction to new animals I do believe that you can have stronger hormonal response during the cycle. I have known mares with silent heats get loud and obnoxious when a horse she is attracted to is near and if that animal is around during her cycle then her behavior changes to being a tart in front of him.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Ah okay, I’ve always been told having males around brings it on but it’s never made much sense to me. I Should fact check things more often 😂
 

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It could definitely be ulcers. How is she while you groom her/tack her up? Does her saddle fit properly? It could be a number of things.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
She’s had her saddle professionally fitted and wasn’t actually wearing it yesterday when I did some groundwork with her. She’s totally fine with being touched everywhere until I get on the mounting block. She’s eating and pooing normally and happy to be caught and pretty standard attitude on lunge (a bit lazy).
 

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I wouldn't disagree a bit with the advice to rule out pain related issues such as ulcers or cysts... that said I have had a great number of rescue horses in my time and some flat out have hormone issues. Ranging from unpredictable and unsafe mares who despite the training will squeal, kick, bite and attack in varying forms. To one mare we had here who would nicker when her rider dismounted and seemed a bit grumpier than your average horse though never a threat. Another mare was a boarded horse here who apparently had cysts that we never knew about until the morning I came out and this grey mare was soaked in blood. A vet exam concluded she had ovarian cysts and one ruptured, she was fine, and never a hormonal horse. The point being, ranging serious and dangerous to barely noticable and mild. I can think of 7 mares and one gelding off the top of my head, the gelding was the only gelding we'd come across displaying sporadic dangerous behaviour and he had Cushings which triggered his aggression and mimicked the mental issues due to hormones that I see more typically in mares. (Nutty mares, not normal mares.)

A mares heat is typically 4-8 days so keep that in mind with how long you've noticed this behavior change. Any time beyond that and I would attribute a more serious hormone imbalance as mentioned in my short novel above, not just "in heat". However, prior to concluding a horse has a hormone imbalance deeming them varying stages of unpredictable, absolutely rule out pain followed directly by ruling out training problems. The mare could be in pain or she could have a nice long history of doing what she is doing and seeing it work. I can think of yet another horse, my first horse actually, who would turn around and bite me in the butt when I tried to get on. Since I'd not known what to do, she won for a while. When I worked that out with an instructor, I was met with a bucking issue. She had a few tricks up her sleeve. This is an example of a NAUGHTY horse not a horse in pain or with a hormone imbalance. With the number of rescues I've worked with more often then not horses that have come in with behavior issues are dominantly training issues and seldom pain related - though it is important to rule out pain first.

I say all that to conclude that there are a number of reasons to consider as to why she could be behaving like this. :grin:
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Strange behaviour

My mare has been acting very strange when I try to mount her. She has started looking at her stomach and putting her head between her back legs (photo) and grunting like a pig. She will also bite/kick out if she thinks I’m getting on. Shes fine on the lunge and was perfect the last time I rode before she started this. I got on when she was acting up and even reared. I haven’t had her long but my thoughts have been;

- Back pain/saddle fit. I’ve only recently been riding her and the saddle is fitted. It seems odd she’s looking at her stomach/ between her legs for this as well. She’s also 5 and had very minimal rides so I’d be surprised if there’s been any rider damage.
- Behavioural. She’s started this over night. It doesn’t seem to fit the bill of her trying something on.
- Heat. Shes now been doing this for 2 weeks which is too long for just being sore from being on heat.
- Ulcers. She’s eating and pooing perfectly and has maintained condition (may have put weight on).

Has anyone experienced this or have any ideas? She’s been doing it now for 2 weeks and I’m at a loss.
 

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Definitely get the vet out. It definitely sounds like something is making her uncomfortable in that area of her body. Keep us posted. I wouldn't say this is behavioral.
 

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Yea, vet time.


Have you checked her udder area and cleaned it out? Suppose it's possible there's something stuck up there making her uncomfortable, which makes her back sore, which makes her react when you mount. Weirder things have happened.
 

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I was thinking that too; that between her teats may be all clogged up with 'gunk'. Many people do not realize that a mare needs to have that area cleaned now and then. Most mares LOVE to have that area scratched and the gunk pulled off. Some will try to kick your head off.


I would suggest getting some help when you try to take a look at this area. Have someone put a soft rope on one of her back legs (or even a front one can work), and lift it off the ground. This will inhibit her from kicking. Then, feel under there, (very carefully, watching to make sure she isn't going to bite you).


You could even put a mirror on a stick and take a look under there , like police do to cars they are checking for bombs on the underside. Kind of extreme, but if she's terribly reactive, it might be worth a try.
 

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I was thinking something with her udders as well. My mare loves having hers scratched. I'd check that out first, but if cleaning her and checking for a foreign object doesn't change her behavior I'd call a vet. That isn't normal.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
So I’ve been to the vet. I had a ride in the round yard and she didn’t do any of their behaviours that she has been doing for a couple of weeks. She was also not lame or sore anywhere. The vet believes the mare is smart and has picked this up habit in a big to stop me from riding her.
I still think the behaviour is very unusual for a horse to pick up over night. My thoughts are that originally she did it due to pain but now she’s preempting the discomfort, or she’s learned that i didn’t get on her when she did that and has just applied that because she doesn’t want to be ridden.
 
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