It's that time of year when mares start to get moody. They're bodies are gearing up for breeding season & will go through several changes during this time.
Some mares have easy heats. They are well behaved, have good attitudes, are aware of their surroundings, & they don't lack much in concentration.
Other mares have strong heats. They have a bad attitude, lack concentration, will pin their ears & may even come after you when you go to put a halter on. You may have a difficult time riding or showing your mare in & amongst other horses because she's acting up. With these types of mares, owners usually work around the mare's schedule rather than trying to force her to show or ride through it.
With difficult mares it is possible to have a regular ride & show season. The key is keeping her focused on the job at hand. Like with most situations in training, keeping their feet moving, means they don't have much time to think about anything else.
Breeding season normally starts in April & ends in September. However it can happen a month earlier &/or later. Usually when fall starts, their bodies begin to slow down on the process to gear up for winter. Knowing when your mare cycles, & how long it lasts for her will assist you in setting up for rides & showing.
A tip for when you are riding with others out on the trail: Tie a red ribbon in her tail & let your friends know that your mare is in heat or going into heat. That way they are aware of your situation & the red ribbon will alert someone riding up from behind not to get too close.
Mares can be "touchy" on certain body parts when in heat. In other words, these tender areas may cause your mare to become snappy, or attempt to kick. Most of the time it's around the flank areas, but there can be other areas as well. Sometimes finding them is trial & error & sometimes purely by accident. Being aware of these areas & avoiding them will make your grooming time better for both of you. Though I have known some mares to be generally unmanageable & I've just left them alone until they start going out of their cycle. If you have one of those Jekyl & Hyde mares, it's ultimately safer to just leave them alone.
Cookie is beginning to gear up for breeding season. I have considered how she acts with other horses while not going into heat. She's food aggressive & has a tendency towards being the dominate one in a herd. Sometimes she even tries to boss me around. However I never let that happen. I have noticed she doesn't like to be brushed around her shoulders & along her sides & back. She also will try to bite if I brush the top of her neck too much. Mind you, the reaction I get from her is a signal to me to leave those areas alone until some other time. Normally I can brush her entire body without any trouble or mishaps. I'm sure she'll have more "off limits" spots when she actually goes into a full blown heat, but I won't know them until she does & will avoid them unless it's absolutely necessary. She also is giving me small clues as to how she will act when in heat, & I will pay attention to those clues also & proceed accordingly.
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