Warm winter causing problems for horse management

  • The mild winter is playing havoc with horse management, with reports of mares being in season “almost constantly”, early moulting and exacerbated skin conditions.

    H&H readers across the UK say they are having problems, particularly with mares.

    Reader Janine Wylie from Londonderry, Northern Ireland, told H&H: “My mare would normally be fairly routine from early spring until October, but she has been acting strangely. I am getting my vet to scan her.”

    And Tracey Woodbine said she was “astonished” to find her mare in season in January “as we live 1,000 feet up a mountain in North Wales”.

    She added: “She went round the man ¨ge with her tail in the air, snorting. We don’t get this behaviour from her at the height of the season.”

    Imogen Yates from Surrey said her mare had come into an “horrendous season” -despite being on Regumate.

    “We have had to up the dose to balance her hormones. She is also getting her summer coat,” she added.

    Juanita Coulson from Windsor said she was surprised to find her mare in season in
    late December and that the mild weather had contributed to her mare’s dermatitis.

    “She developed it quite badly on her tummy and flanks, brought on by sweat, which is hard to wash off at this time of year,” she added.

    H&H vet Karen Coumbe said she was noticing both reduced winter coat growth and early shedding, affected by the high temperatures.

    Another concern is laminitis – as the grass is relatively good in some areas,” she added.

    But reproductive expert Dr Jonathan Pycock said it was unlikely that mares were actually in season.

    “The overriding mechanism [in stimulating their ovaries] is daylight, not temperature,” he explained.

    “If a mare is thinking about whether to cycle, she will be encouraged if the weather is mild. You may see the signs such as tail lifting – but she will not be ready to ovulate.”

    This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (19 January 2012)

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