Owning a mare often involves a rollercoaster of emotions – for both the mare and the owner! A mare’s mood swings are typically accompanied by irritability, muscular tension, erratic behaviour patterns and a generally uncooperative attitude. This quintessential ‘mare-ish’ behaviour can cause disruptions to training and competition schedules, as some mares become reactive, hard to handle or unfocused in their work.
Why is my mare behaving this way?
There are many factors that can contribute to undesirable behaviour in horses. However, if you notice your mare’s behaviour changes on a regular 21-day basis when she’s ‘in season’, it’s likely linked to hormonal fluctuations associated with her breeding cycle. We tend to relate these mood swings to the ‘pre-menstrual tension’ (PMS) women can experience during their reproductive cycle. However, mares don’t have a menstrual cycle like humans, so we refer to it as ‘Moody Mare Syndrome’ (MMS).
The mare’s reproductive cycle
Mares are seasonal breeders that cycle in response to increasing day length (i.e. in Spring and Summer). A normal cycle consists of roughly seven days of oestrus (‘heat’) and a 14-day period of dioestrus (when she’s not in heat).
When the mare is in dioestrus, her behaviour is generally not objectionable for training or riding. However, during the 7-day period of oestrus, the mare may show an undesirable attitude such as squealing at other horses, urinating small amounts frequently and becoming easily distracted by other horses. These are normal behaviours associated with oestrus.
Normally, a mare in the wild will re-breed each season and therefore spends 11 months of the year in foal. In contrast, domesticated mares aren’t usually bred until they are retired from their chosen discipline. This means their emotions are at the whim of their oestrus cycle during the breeding season and us lucky owners get to bear the brunt of MMS!
If your mare is expressing undesirable behaviour, it’s important to keep track to see if it’s occurring on a cyclical basis. If the behaviour is related to the oestrus cycle, it should happen every 21 days or so. Keep track using a calendar. If the behaviour continues into Winter, there could be something else going on. Physical problems such as ovarian tumours, urinary tract/bladder infections and musculoskeletal pain can cause behaviours that mimic oestrus. It is recommended to consult with your veterinarian to help determine the cause.
Ok, I think my mare’s mood swings are related to her breeding cycle. Is there anything I can do nutritionally to help?
We’re glad you asked! Chasteberry (Vitex agnus-castus) is a special herb that has a long traditional history of use in human herbal medicine. Chasteberry is the fruit of the chastetree, which is native to Central Asia and the Mediterranean region. Also known as Monks Pepper, the fruit looks similar to black peppercorns. Chasteberry has been used for thousands of years, mostly by women to ease menstrual problems.
In horses, chasteberry has the potential to assist the body in maintaining homeostasis in a wide range of situations, including behaviour. In particular, chasteberry supplementation can help balance behaviour in mares, improving their mood which aids relaxation and cooperation.
Managing the moody mare
If you’re struggling with your mare’s mood swings, consider Kelato’s BetaMARE which is a concentrated, standardised chasteberry extract supplement that supports normal balanced behaviour in moody mares.
BetaMARE can benefit your mare by:
Promoting balanced behaviour
Reducing irritability and mood swings
Providing a natural remedy for tension
Aiding focus for consistent performance
Improving willingness to work
Happy mare, no more glarey stare!
What makes BetaMARE unique?
A common problem with feeding raw herbs (whether whole, dried or powdered) is the variation between batches. The level of actives in raw herbs can be influenced by a range of factors, such as stage of growth, seasonal and environmental conditions (soil type, pH, water, etc). So it is difficult to determine an effective feeding rate unless a standardised herbal extract is used. For this reason, Kelato Animal Health use a concentrated, standardised chasteberry extract in BetaMARE to ensure consistency and efficacy between product batches.
Kelato’s BetaMARE supports normal balanced behaviour to help her keep the balance. Naturally!
Over recent years, much more research has focused on the nutritional requirements and feeding management of the broodmare. Inadequate nutrition can have a direct influence on the fertility, conception and foaling rate of mares. Poor nutrition is a major factor that can reduce reproductive efficiency, despite good breeding management and veterinary care of otherwise healthy mares. An adequate and well-balanced nutrient intake and feeding management program is paramount to fertility and breeding success.
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