Tell me about your hormonal mares

How did you know your mare was having lady problems?

I have tested, checked and x-rayed for just about everything else and that seems to be the next step, testing hormone levels and ultrasound of ovaries. She is/has been on Regumate. I feel like there is a seasonal pattern to her behavior - worst in spring and fall. I don’t have a ton of experience with mares and this is making me not want any more experience with them.

What is her weight/size? How much regumate is she on? Do you take her off in winter?

I haven’t measured her in quite a while but my guess is 16.2h-ish, probably in the 1200 lb range. She gets 10cc of Regumate daily. I don’t take her off it in the winter.

Technically the dose is 1 ml (i.e., cc) per 110 lbs body weight. So if she’s 1200 lbs, you should be closer to 11 mls. Personally, I would even try bumping up to 12 mls. My trainer, who has a big mare (maybe closer to 1300 lbs?) keeps hers on 14 mls. Partly depends on how much muscle your horse has (since muscle weighs more than fat), so a weight tape might not account for fitness. So if your mare is very fit, I would not hesitate to try 12 mls/day.

I know it’s not much help, but that’s an easy place to start. I have also heard that sometimes they can have more intense hormonal cycles in the spring and summer - not sure how true it is (but I have felt as much with mine, particularly in the fall, though the change of weather never helps!).

Re: reproductive ultrasound - can’t hurt. No reason to think they don’t have the same kind of problems we do.

Curious to hear what others have to say also.

What’s the actual problem? Pissy in pain, or just skanky?

I put my mare on Regumate as a trial one summer because she seemed angry all the time. It was a process of elimination. I cut back the Regumate to the minimum dosage that would still suppress her heat cycles. She mellowed out. So that told me it was hormones not a sore back etc. I took her off for fall pasture and she had a crazy big heat right away. I never put her back on, and while she has clear heat cycles she has not been angry like that. In fact she is more social and cuddly in heat.

If Regumate is suppressing heat cycles effectively but your mare is still angry then you need to look further. It’s not just cyclical hormones. You could look at repro issues but also all the regular stuff like ulcers, back neck pain, saddle fit, etc.

What are the symptoms?

Not in order, but she has been tested for lyme, scoped (nope), treated for hindgut ulcers (just in case), had a full lameness work-up by a sports medicine specialist. Saddle fitter and new saddle (although that did not appear to be a problem anyway).

Lol, never skanky just very grumpy. Recently noticed that her udder appeared to be swollen, like she was bagging up. It’s back down to normal but that is part of why I am thinking something relating to her lady bits. Just trying to get a feel for others’ experiences with their grumpy, hormonal mares.

Did you radiographed the feet as part of the workup? I think this is often overlooked but mild changes in the hoof (low grade navicular, NPA) could be another source of pain (ask me how I know).

I agree with Scribbler - if you think the regumate is successfully suppressing estrus I wouldn’t imagine it’s hormonal - it’s probably just still pain at that point (feet, ovaries, etc.).

You have my sympathies - I’m going through something similar also so I feel your pain.

Mares can be more expressive and more self protective than some geldings. I had good luck fixing my girthy mare with clicker training.

Funny you should ask about the feet - yes.
The same day that she was scoped we also did a lameness evaluation with the sports med vet. Although she appeared sound to me and I did not go there with any anticipation that she was lame, it was quite to my surprise (and embarassment!) that she lunged lame in both directions. Blocked both feet and she was equally lame in both. So we did a pretty extensive set of x-rays and nothing obvious showed up.

I’ve had the same thoughts as well - I have another horse with pedal osteitis and kissing spines so my thoughts naturally wander to all the “hidden” sources of pain. It’s possible that the swollen udder was a red herring I guess but it seemd like a potential clue :crazy_face:

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Swollen udder plus chronic sore feet can be Cushings or metabolic syndrome starting. Is she fat?

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Wow, well then it really does sound like you covered your bases! I would jump in and check repro stuff. Hopefully not the case here, but I always think in cases like this about the rare “giant tumor on an ovary” or stuff like that.

In my experience, mares are more expressive, but not overall nastier without reason :slight_smile:

Good luck and keep us posted!

Nope, not fat, beautiful coat…none of the typical signs of cushings for sure, but what’s another blood test at this point? :grimacing:

The vet who scoped her suggested EDM as a possibility but I don’t think that fits.

We are lucky enough to be close to New Bolton and I’d gladly take her to whatever expert should evaluate her next but I don’t know who that should be at this point :woozy_face:

It sounds like the next step is New Bolton. I would call them, tell the receptionist briefly what’s going on, what you’ve done, and see if she can refer you to a vet you can talk to. They should be able to suggest the next steps based on your history (or whoever your sports medicine vet is could probably also). Something like nuclear scintigraphy could be helpful if you really don’t know where to start.

I think there was a thread on here not too long ago about someone exasperated by her mare’s nastiness, asking if mares were worth putting up with given how angry hers always was. Ultimately, they found a physical issue (I forget what exactly) that was causing the mare tremendous pain. I think they ultimately put her to sleep, but the moral of the story is most, if not all mares, are not just nasty or angry for no reason. Perhaps a bit more emotionally expressive, but not nasty and angry. If they are, there’s probably reason.

Hope you have insurance :woozy_face:

Agree - this very much feels like it is a pain thing. I bought her from her breeder when she was 3 so I know her whole history - she was a super sweet and easy filly. I don’t think she is a nasty horse and I hope I can get to the bottom of this with a happy ending.

New plan is to test hormone levels and I’m going to see if we can do the ACTH test on the same panel.

I lost my gelding in February to EDM. The biggest symptom was his explosive reactions (in a horse that had not been explosive before). Massive spooks and melt downs, and they were seen in the pasture in addition to riding. He did get neurologic, but that was mild and worsened by the end. He did get really grumpy at the end, but that was pain mediated. He was the sweetest horse ever and one night out of the blue he bit me…I think he was as surprised as I was. That behavior was completely out of character and not provoked…at that point I knew there was definitely a medical cause. Not sure what exactly was causing the pain, but it was definitely an issue that got worse. He also had inconsistent lameness with nothing found diagnostically to explain the lameness that would come and go (which actually points to neuro issues). New Bolton has been great…I use Dr. Davidson for sports med, Dr. Johnson for neuro, and Dr. Dobbie for repro - all 3 are fantastic vets.

Sorry about losing your horse @Critter :cry: EDM sounds like a terrible experience for everyone involved.

Unfortunately I have experience with Dr. Johnson at NBC as well. It didn’t end well for me either but I was grateful to have her expertise and compassion. I get the feeling that there are not many happy endings for her patients.

Now that I think about it, I’m 0 for 2 for horses that went to New Bolton in the past 2 years :sob:

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Usually, if you are headed to NBC, it’s never a good thing (unless you are so close you use them for standard care and field service!).

They do have a behavioral analysis that can be done while up there…we did it on my gelding as I was pulling out all the stops to get a diagnosis. They did 24 hr monitoring with the cameras and did a behavior analysis. I don’t know that it told us much that helped…they confirmed that he had a lot of pain symptoms and was sleep deprived. Neither was a surprise…but it wasn’t that much $ and I had to make sure we ruled out anything that was treatable.

Since you have the lameness issue, maybe get her up there under a sports med vet and have them set up a repro consult while there. I’ve found the specialists up there are actually quite willing to work together. My gelding went up under Dr. Davidson, but it quickly became clear it was a neuro case…yet both vets were in constant contact and looping me in (I couldn’t be there because of Covid rules). Dr. Davidson was checking on my guy in the mornings and giving him treats to try and perk him up…even when he was switched over to neuro.

I also had one mare that was miserable/grumpy/mean and we did all kinds of work ups…nothing found. She did occasionally have a bad colic. When we ended up euthanizing her as she had a colic that was so bad we couldn’t even get her on a trailer (kept going down on major drugs)…she ended up having pancreatitis (acute on chronic). So, she was likely in some degree of pain from it all the time…even though she seemed to eat normally and had true colic episode maybe once every 4 months.

Really interesting about the pancreatitis. I just did some reading about it in horses - sounds like one of the many things that fall under the umbrella term “colic” without understanding of the actual cause :frowning:

Lots of horses go to NBC have great outcomes!

Reading more about Cushing’s/PPID and the swollen udder symptom. But does Cushing’s also make them exceptionally girthy and sensitive to touch in general? My only experiences are with geldings who have/had more classic presentations and no behavioral changes.

Pain science isn’t super full of answers on the human side (as in things like, knowing what conditions will cause X levels and types of pain) let alone horses. Certainly not helpful that we can’t talk it through with them.

I do remember someone saying equine anatomy comes with kind of a “sick joke” in the number of things that sit under or hang from under the relatively unsupported lumbar spine… hip flexors, gut, kidneys, and ovaries. I’ve started to wonder how many mares who aren’t that fun during points in their cycle are being “pushed over the edge” with underlying issues that are maybe more tolerable during other times. Whether that be from stresses in the anatomical area of the reproductive tract (which can also originate elsewhere, ie. hind feet or hocks) or bodywide changes thanks to hormones.

Sorry it’s not really a helpful answer or solution to the problem you are having. Honestly, my thoughts are going out to you, because I know it’s not easy. I do think you are wise to pursue the reproductive check so you know where that is at. But don’t stop considering the whole horse and picture like you are now. Best of luck to you and your girl.