Strong, dominant and potentially hormonal, mares can be, forgive the pun, a nightmare. However some of their other qualities — inquisitiveness, loyalty, competitiveness — can give them the edge that makes them a winner
If you ride a mare, here are nine tips, gathered from top mare owners, that may give you something to think about.
1. Be flexible in your approach to management and training. Eventer Jo Aston suggests that you try to make your mare believe it’s all her idea.
2. Be prepared to alter your riding style to suit her individuality. Showjumper Ben Maher found that if he stayed more forward in his upper body than he normally would it better suited Cella.
3. Does you mare thrive on individual attention? Showjumper Helen Tredwell, successful with mares such as Opportunity B and Naomi V, believes that in some cases this is the answer. Be prepared to spend more time with your mare or consider a smaller yard.
4. When training your mare, make use of her feminine instincts. Victoria Panizzon’s Borough Pennyz, who finished 7th at Badminton and 8th at the Europeans last year, didn’t want to get her feet wet until a handsome gelding led the way. And Michael Eilberg confesses to using a bit of charm to sweeten the ground rules with his dressage mares.
5. Learn to recognise when your mare is having a bad day. H&H’s dressage editor Alice Collins who competes at elementary on her 7-year-old mare Faconnable, suggest you might need to ask a question slightly differently.
6. What sort of mood are you in? Does your mare respond to your mood? Victoria Panizzon recognizes that she needs to be in a positive frame of mind if she wants Borough Pennyz to co-operate.
7. If your mare is prone to tying up, Jo Aston recommends making sure she is fed a diet high in fibre and oil and that you spend plenty of time warming up and cooling down.
8. Is your mare more reactive to your aids during her season? Consider using lighter aids when she is feeling more sensitive, suggests Alice Collins.
9. Alice Collins uses massage to help relax tight muscles behind the saddle when her horse Faconnable is in season. Magnetic rugs can help too.