In the horse world, mares often have a reputation for being unpredictable and grouchy, something that is usually attributed to their heat cycles. Many horse people prefer to ride geldings, and claim that geldings are more placid and less touchy than most mares. However, a simple understanding of your mare?s heat cycle can make owning a mare just as pleasurable as a gelding.
Mares cycle only during their regular breeding season, which is typically from spring to early fall. During this breeding period, a mare will cycle ever 21 ? 23 days. During this time, there will be approximately eight days when her body would be receptive to breeding ? this is called her estrus period. Mares can experience a range of symptoms either before, during, or after this period. Each mare will be unique. Some will display extreme behavioral changes, others will show mild grumpiness, and still others will show no change at all.
During the winter months, a mare?s cycle will shut down and she will stop experiencing the symptoms that go along with it. This is a good time of year to really get to know your mare and her reactions as she is under normal conditions. Note what she likes and doesn?t like, and how she reacts to various routines such as grooming, tacking up, and riding.
As spring approaches, use a calendar to mark down your mare?s behavior each day. When is she loving, cooperative and responsive? When is she grouchy, moody, and doesn?t want to be handled? Maybe she swishes her tail or pins her ears back? As you note these behaviors, patterns will develop and you will likely be able to pinpoint the times during her cycle when her behavior changes. If your mare?s heat reactions are extreme, you might want to use this knowledge to work around her off days. With a little understanding and cooperation, working with a mare can be just as enjoyable and rewarding as working with a gelding.