Mareish behaviour: In season, unsound or something else? *H&H Plus*

Is your mare suffering from a hormone imbalance or is there something else causing that unwanted behaviour? Charlotte Thomas MRCVS investigates

Oestrus, or in-season behaviour, is easy to recognise in some mares. Signs can include frequent urination, squatting, everting the vulval lips to expose the clitoris (known as winking) and unpredictable behaviour that can be difficult to manage. Oestrus behaviour is a normal manifestation of the mare’s cycling breeding hormone levels throughout the year.

In non-domesticated herds, this behaviour is important to indicate to the stallion when the mare is receptive to covering and when she is at the point most likely to conceive within her cycle. Likewise, in a stud farm scenario, the mare’s responsiveness to a “teaser” (a stallion that is used to test if a mare is ready to be served) is used alongside ultrasound imaging to determine when is the best time to natural cover or artificially inseminate.

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