Q&A: Curing winter blues

  • Q: I have owned my New Forest mare for nearly a year. Over the winter, when she is just ridden at weekends as opposed to every day in the sumer, she becomes extremely stroppy and moody.

    She tries to bite me when I do up her rug or girth and when I go into her stable. I have tried tapping her muzzle or neck and saying “no” to her, but this just seems to makes her angry. What can you suggest that I do?

    Equine psychic Gaynor Davenport replies: Firstly, I’d get your mare’s teeth checked and ask your vet to examine her to rule out any medical causes.

    I have found in my work that mares often suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), ie depression in the winter months caused through a lack of light.

    Your mare could be suffering from this problem since she only developed behavioural problems in the winter months. Watch her closely and see if she improves in the spring and summer.

    Massaging can be extremely useful, especially combined with essential oils. Try massaging gently from her girth towards her heart in small circles. Use lavender oil, which has a calming effect, in a carrier oil such as sesame seed (preferably organic). Dab a little of the lavender each side of her withers and under the saddle area.

    It’s worth remembering that if you cut back on her workload, you should alter her feeding programme accordingly. Ask for advice from a feed company .

    If you try the above and she doesn’t improve, talk to an equine behaviour expert.

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