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Young mare: Irregular heavy heat, cause ??

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  • Young mare: Irregular heavy heat, cause ??

    My 3.5 year old mare has begun to exhibit some signs that I think may be indicators of something female-related. Mare owners - I would appreciate your experiences and expertise regarding a developing station with my horse.

    My mare is typically a quiet/calm and curious type, yet still very forward and athletic. Recently she has exhibited the inability to focus at times, will refuse to stand quietly, is very fresh, and will at times kick straight out. At first I thought it may have been the weather change and attitude, but this has developed into more of a pattern that is indicating a possible underlying cause. She is in full training (groundwork only for the sake of consistency since I took a new job and my schedule is anything but consistent for a baby).. and she has been making consistant forward progress. She is also on outdoor board 24/7, with plenty of time to play with the other mares.

    This behavior tends to be exhibited most often when she is in heat. Over summer she was rarely in heat, and when she was in heat it was hardly noticeable. Recently she seems to be in and out of heat very frequently and when she is - she is high strung and cannot focus. Today her heat was so intense she was standing in the pasture kicking straight out at nothing. I have never seen this type of heat out of this mare.


    One thought is ulcers. It was suggested to put her on Smart Gut or a similar product to help - and if no improvement scope and treat with UlcerGard. I have used UG on her in the past as a preventative when traveling, but she is not on a maintenance dose of anything right now.

    Second thought is simply young mare and irregular heat cycles that may regulate over time.

    Third thought is hormones, or cysts.


    I am not very familiar with hormone imbalances or cysts, and am not 100% sure how those indicators might look. It may very well be a combination of the above - or some additional factors. Ideas are very welcomed. Too much grain? A friend suggested having a vet insert a marble if that was a related cause to this behavioral change. Anyone have experience with that?

    Vet is coming out next week, but some insight as to what questions to ask or other possibilities would be very helpful and appreciated.

  • #2
    I'd see about getting an ultrasound done.


    • #3
      Are you feeding her any soy based products?

      Several years ago, my mare had issues with colicing. A friend recommended a "nutritionist" come out to see if he had any suggestions. He put her on a soy based ration balancer. It took me about six months to figure out why her behavior changed so dramatically. His "program" did not help the colic issues, either.

      Before I knew that she was extremely sensitive to soy, my mare would have terrible heat cycles. It seemed like they never ended. She had sticky goo on her hind legs, which I could not get off, because it was during the Winter and 20 degrees outside.

      Once I stopped the soy, she went back to having regular cycles.

      I feed Quiessence, too. It seems to help her focus on her work when she is cycling. I finally found a ration balancer, which is not soy based. It is M-10 from McCauley Brothers. I feed it with a small amount of soaked beet pulp and some suppliments. The best part, knock on wood, is that she has not coliced in two years.

      I hope that your Vet can help you figure out what is going on with your girl!
      When in Doubt, let your horse do the Thinking!


      • #4
        I don't think this is unusual in young mares about 3/4. My 4 year old floozy just turned 5, and was in a heat for 5 straight months. (I bought her severely underweight and when she got groceries in her system, she suddenly went into puberty and made up for lost time.) Had her vetted for problems (no cysts or ovarian issues), and then opted for an intrauterine marble. Brought her out of heat for 3 months. Other helpful changes were to add magnesium supplement, reduce soy and starch. A second-level treatment is hormone implant.
        At all times, we are either training or untraining.
        Flying Haflinger blog: http://flyinghaflinger.blogspot.com/ Flying Irish Draught blog: http://flyingirishredhead.blogspot.com/


        • #5
          Haven't experienced issues like this myself so no words of wisdom to offer, but if you do end up getting her checked out, make sure to work with a repro specialist- I'd suggest either Dr. Langer at Wisconsin Equine or Dr. Griffin at Irongate.
          High Quality Tack Resale


          • #6
            I would not be concerned about it especially for a 3.5 year old mare.

            Mares can have just as odd cycles during the seasonal "transition" that happens in Spring in the Fall.

            Regarding her distraction, well she's coming into full reproductive maturity. I've had many mares from birth to death.

            I would say, be patient, give it a chance. Just understand this is part of mare sexual development. Most just get used to it and are worked right through it if you don't make it a training issue.

            I would be reluctant to intervene with medication or even spend the $$ having her "checked out". She's doing what many young mares may do, physiologically, as they grow up! Doesn't mean she'll be like this forever..

            If your concern is her distraction in work, then just don't work her while she's in heat for now as it will frustrate you.

            If, OTOH, you are determined to work her and are disturbed by her being in heat and want to medicate her...that's a different subject entirely and I won't go there.

            I suspect this is simply a "hard heat" that is transitional due to the season. If I were you, I'd just wait it out. for now. You might see the same thing in Spring. No big whoop.

            Good luck!
            Last edited by sid; Nov. 7, 2012, 06:40 PM.
            www.littlebullrun@aol.com See Little Bull Run's stallions at:
            "Argosy" - YouTube and "Boleem" - YouTube
            Boleem @ 1993 National Dressage Symposium - YouTube


            • Original Poster

              Answer to questions:

              Auburn - she is fed Strategy. She has been on it since about mid July, and initially I did not notice any adverse affects or reactions to the feed. She is also on flax, probiotic, and biotin.

              JS Jumper - Thank you! She is under WI Equine care, typically Dr. Bourne is the farm vet. I don't know that I will have any say in changing who is asked to come out to the vet call, but at this point I am only looking to have a discussion with the vet to see what her thoughts are as well. I will not be extensively testing or medicating at this point. Unfortunately I am at work when the vet is scheduled, so I plan to call her prior to the visit and follow up after to make sure all my questions are answered.

              Sid - I absolutely will not medicate for the sole purpose of continuing her training. Her care and comfort are my 100% priority. She is one to develop and mature slowly, so her training is absolutely not being pushed either.

              Has anyone had any experience with Mare Magic or a similar product? That has also been suggested by others but I have personally not had any experience with it.


              • Original Poster

                Originally posted by trabern View Post
                I don't think this is unusual in young mares about 3/4. My 4 year old floozy just turned 5, and was in a heat for 5 straight months. (I bought her severely underweight and when she got groceries in her system, she suddenly went into puberty and made up for lost time.) Had her vetted for problems (no cysts or ovarian issues), and then opted for an intrauterine marble. Brought her out of heat for 3 months. Other helpful changes were to add magnesium supplement, reduce soy and starch. A second-level treatment is hormone implant.
                What was the process for the intrauterine marble, and what was the approximate expense? Are there any adverse effects for young mares still developing to have this? (Asking out of curiosity - I have never heard of this until yesterday when a friend mentioned it with her mare).


                • #9
                  Yes, this final fall heat cycle has been officially caused a three to four day complete bout of insanity in two of my mares this year. Seriously want to trade them in for geldings or even the stallions I've boarded have never been this bad... And yes, it is normal for young mares to be consumed by their hormonal desires. Wish we could put them all on the "pill" vs messy regumate or expensive injectables and such...


                  • #10
                    She is going through her seasonal transition phase due to the decreased photoperiod (shortening of amount of light each day). Fall transition is characterized by intense, prolonged heats among other heat-related abnormalities. Absolutely normal, some mares just show more than others. You can talk to your vet about some drugs to moderate her signs.


                    • #11
                      my trainer sent me this thread asking if the OP had stolen my pony. She is going on regumate next year before she comes back into work.


                      • #12
                        www.littlebullrun@aol.com See Little Bull Run's stallions at:
                        "Argosy" - YouTube and "Boleem" - YouTube
                        Boleem @ 1993 National Dressage Symposium - YouTube


                        • #13
                          My mare was right at this age, and she started the same type stuff. Super strong heats, super opinionated towards other horses. She was being worked pretty well for her upcoming breed certification. So I started her on Ultium because she needed to "look the part" for her upcoming breed certification (iow she was on the thin side). That pretty much started the ball rolling ALOT faster towards her being in constant heat, hard to ride, and very very inconsistent behavior.

                          After reading, and researching, and one REALLY bad ride, I removed her off of all SOY.

                          Now she eats, pasture, hay, equipride, bp, and tim pellets, and anything else which has no soy. Took a month or two for things to get back to normal. Took a bit of retraining, but now she is 6.5 and doing fine! This december is going to be 3 years since she has been soy free. I truly thought I had bought and raised a nutcase, but with some detective work, I figured it out.

                          Also, this no-soy feed plan is MUCH less expensive, and really easy.
                          Last edited by rmh_rider; Nov. 15, 2012, 05:15 PM. Reason: spelling


                          • #14