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Hormones out of control, any advice? New territory for me.

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  • Hormones out of control, any advice? New territory for me.

    So one of my mares seems to be having "hormone" issues. This is a new situation for me and I'd love to hear advice/ideas.

    Quick backstory. Bred her in 10 took on first try, delivered beautiful healthy foal spring of 11. No issues during her pregnancy, delivery, etc. Did not breed her back in 11. Bred her spring of 12, took on second try. All seemed normal. Noticed in Sept she had white drops on her udder. She was at 125 days. Ultrasound showed she had absorbed sometime in the last 3/4 weeks. Vet saw no evidence of a "problem". It seems about once a month since I would notice white drops on her udder. No other changes that I could see.

    Fast forward to about a week ago, she changed her behavior toward my pregnant mare. At about that time preg mare started to get the beginnings of a bag. Preg mare is 312 days today, this is normal for this mare as she takes about 4 weeks to "get ready". Back to first mare, I figured she must be able to smell the "changes" going on with preg mare. Preg mare is the alpha, other mare is very submissive. First mare has been very interested in sniffing preggo this past week. Again, I just think she can smell the change and as she was very maternal with other babies born here, just thinking she's kinda going into a sort of mommy mode.

    Today when turning her out for the night she was covered in dried sweat, and her stall and stall paddock were all churned up. She had obviously been walking or worse in there. She also had the "milk" drops on her udder tonight. This happened between when I fed lunch and dinner(she ate both). It was a quiet day here, nothing happened that could have upset her.

    What's going on with her? Any ideas? Is this going to mess up her cycle to be bred in the next couple months? Should I put her on regumate now? Will she go back to normal once preggo foals? I do plan on discussing this with my vet when I see him later this week just wanted to hear if anyone else went through something similar in the meantime.
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  • #2
    Have the mare checked for pregnancy again.

    Possible indications that she could be pregnant despite the alleged "not pregnant" diagnosis include the fact that at 125 days (when the mare was checked) the fetus is often out of reach over the pelvic brim (so increasing the likelihood of a false negative diagnosis); and that at certain stages of pregnancy fetal hormones may cause a mare to present stallion-like behaviour (which a change from submissive to dominant behaviour may be).

    Furthermore, if the mare is pregnant and pre-breeding diagnostics are performed (e.g. swabs or biopsy), abortion is a likely sequela.

    Hope this helps.
    Jos Mottershead
    Equine-Reproduction.com LLC
    EquineRepro Informational Group


    • Original Poster

      Wow Jos, that possibility certainly never crossed my mind!

      Would it still be possible for her to be pregnant even though on the 125 day ultrasound she showed an "empty" uterus with a small amount of fluid still present and the endometrial cups still present?

      It's easy enough to have her checked in any case.

      She is still submissive to alpha mare, just more interested in her.
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      • #4
        Originally posted by everafterfarm View Post
        Would it still be possible for her to be pregnant even though on the 125 day ultrasound she showed an "empty" uterus with a small amount of fluid still present and the endometrial cups still present?

        If the fetus were missed because it was out of reach, the allantoic fluid surrounding it might still be mistaken for "uterine fluid".

        The endometrial cups may not regress until 150 or more days in any case (although some regress prior to that).
        Jos Mottershead
        Equine-Reproduction.com LLC
        EquineRepro Informational Group


        • #5
          Have you changed her feed in any way?

          After you've had her checked for pregnancy as Jos suggested, and if she is confirmed NOT in foal, if you have recently changed or increased her kibble feed recently, check your feed label for soy.

          I have a couple mares who have super crazy hormones on soy. I don't normally feed nonpreggos any sort of grain/kibble unless I'm starting to prepare for spring breeding. A mare I've had just a little over a year was started on a complete feed at the end of December, and she went into heat within 2 weeks and then cycled a second time in about 15 days. I didn't really think too much with it because there is the odd mare who will cycle during the winter, but it did catch my attention because last winter she did not cycle. Over the subsequent weeks, her behaviour rapidly developed into aggression, challenging all the boss mares and just in general creating disturbances, until she focused most of her attention on another pregnant mare who had previously been her friend. This was a radical change in behavior for her. I pulled the mare out, and on a whim, checked the label and the first 2 ingredients on the complete feed her soy husks/hulls and soy meal. A week after switching off the complete feed and onto beet pulp and oats and alfalfa pellets, and she has reverted back to her normal calm, easygoing self. The behaviour was very unusual for her as she has never behaved like that before, such a radical change timed with the introduction of kibble and now a progressive reversion back to normal off kibble feed. It's too soon to tell if her cycle has gone back to winter hiatus. Boss #2, who she had taken to harassing, has been put in with her and she has remained her normal submissive self. It's just a little too coincidental for my liking, so she'll never get soy-based feed again. I have another mare who develops hives on any soy-containing feed, and I've had problems with strange cycles with a couple other mares on soy feeds that even my vet has stated is a possibility. My old brain seems to recall there was a recent study linking high-soy with laminitis, but for the life of me, I can't find the study now.

          Soy in small amounts can be wonderful and very useful, but I think we're using soy in unprecidented amounts now. My broodmares are now on a broodie feed that does not contain soy whatsoever and it's pretty clear I'm not a huge fan of soy. Not every horse has a problem with it, but there are some who do, and I have been in contact with a rather significant number of people who have commented that soy-based feeds seemed to correlate with changes in their horses' behaviour, personality, and attitude. A few breeders have commented that they're linking some difficulties with cycles and breeding/catching with high-soy feeds.

          It's not likely your mare is reacting to soy, especially if you haven't changed your feed. It's only a subject of interest to you if you have recently changed your feed or even recently increased her kibble feed, and if it timed up with this radical change in her hormones and/or behaviour, check the ingredients list.

          Just something to think about.
          Last edited by rodawn; Feb. 11, 2013, 07:03 PM. Reason: typo!
          Practice! Patience! Persistence!


          • Original Poster

            Nope, no feed change in years.

            Vet did a palpate while he was here and no baby either. She would be 9 months along by now, so there's no way he could have missed it this time. I was planning on taking her in for her prebreeding stuff the beginning of March, so just going to stick with that for now and hopefully once we get the ultrasound on her again we will see if anything is amiss or if she's just being influenced by preggo mare(this is my vet's thought).
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            • #7
              Could she have a cyst or something on her ovary?
              Cornerstone Equestrian
              Home of Amazing (Balou du Rouet/Voltaire) 2005 KWPN Stallion
              RPSI, KWPN reg B, and IHF nominated


              • Original Poster

                I wouldn't rule out something like a cyst. When we get the ultrasound back on her the vet will be giving a good look for anything out of the ordinary. I am just hoping she's just feeding off the other mare, but whatever it ends up being if it's something that can be easily "fixed" I'm thankful.
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