Women & Horses Newsletter - March 2004
Tips for Horse Lovers
It is such an invigorating time of year we are in right now.
All over the U.S. Spring is beginning
to peak through the permafrost. The days are getting longer
and all of us feel the affects of the increase in the light.
Mares feel the affects of the light in their retinas which
in turn stimulates the pituitary gland which in turn releases
FSH and then LH into the reproductive system. Their cycles
will start again now, or for those mares that never completely
go dormant, the cycles will intensify. You will notice your
mare being a bit more on edge and more sensitive as if she
has just been awoken from a long winter’s nap. Typically,
their coats will dapple out and become very shiny to attract
any stallion nearby. I call this her spring bloom.
Don’t be surprised if your mare is not as focused in her work
as usual or allowing you to sit deeply on her back for the
next few months, her entire body is being stimulated by the
release of hormones into her system. From February through
July mares and stallions are thinking about breeding.
1) Here are a few ways to help both of you through the breeding
Ear Staples: Ask your veterinarian if he or she will place
surgical staples on the endocrine points inside the mare’s
ears. I have had this done for Anna and it is very easy. Your
vet may have to give your mare a sedative if she is touchy
about her ears, otherwise it can be done quickly without any
Herbs: Hilton Herbs makes a Regulate Mare formula which comes
in dry and wet forms to be placed in the feed. If you are
competing make sure you get the Valerian Free variety. I use
this with Anna and it is a wonderful product. She gets the
dry herbs mixed in with her grain once per day and it just
balances out her behavior. She still cycles normally and she
is still a mare but it softens the highs and lows while she
is in heat.
Regumate: This is the strongest remedy for hormonal issues
on the market. It is expensive and messy but does work. For
the mare that is highly hormonally charged this may be your
best option. The mare gets 10ccs of the product in her grain
once daily. Women have to be careful not to let the product
touch their skin as it may affect her periods and reproductive
Ovariectomy: This is a surgical procedure where the ovaries
are removed with a laparoscope. Small incisions are made on
either side of the mare’s flanks where the laparoscope is
inserted and the ovaries are removed. If you are not planning
on breeding the mare this is certainly a good option costing
Aromatherapy: There are several good aromatherapy products
on the market or at your local alternative health care store.
Chamisa Ridge and Cheval International have the best selection
I have seen. Basically you are looking for a tincture that
has a balancing and quieting quality for mares. You simply
place a dot of the formula at the base of each nostril before
work or whenever you need the mare’s attention to be focused
Body work therapy: Magnets, massages, laser light therapy
and myo-fascial work will all help your mare be more comfortable
while she is in heat.
Herbs and aromatherapy will help you the most with your stallion
during this highly charged time. Also putting a dab of Vick’s
vapo rub in his nostrils will help to keep the pheromones
from going up into his nasal cavity and stimulating him.
2) As the sun intensifies it may bleach out your horse’s coat
color. There are all-natural internal sun screens available
through Cheval International (or SmartPak) which I am going
to try this year. Instead of fly sheeting all of the time,
using a topical, or keeping them in their stalls during the
daylight hours, feed a supplement which is designed to resist
fading and maintain the horse’s color.
3) Give your horse a spa day every now and then while he or
she is coming back into regular work. As you build your horse’s
fitness this Spring notice that he or she may be muscle sore
and need some assistance from you to stretch, release and
loosen those tight and sore areas. I usually start with rubbing
roller magnets all over my horse’s body and this makes her
relax completely. Then I take each leg forward, sideways and
back doing tiny circles each direction and slowly letting
the lower leg down to the ground. By this time her ankles
almost touch the ground as she has dropped her shoulder or
hip in relaxation. Thirdly, I wring out hot water soaked towels
and drape them over her back and croup. I will usually let
each towel sit on her for 10 minutes, I repeat this 3 times.
If you have access to a wash stall you could let warm water
fall over her back for 10 minutes. After this is done I usually
place a sheet or cooler over her back while I go over her
with my hands.
Finally, I will run my hands over her tight spots to find
any leftover knots or tensions that are left and massage them
out. I will finish with some Arnica Liniment over the sore
spots such as her groin muscles and hamstrings to heal the
inflamed soft tissue.
This may sound like a great deal of work but it pays off immensely
in your horse’s comfort and willingness to work. Working and
pushing your horse through his/her soreness without paying
attention to their body development will only cause tension
in their nervous system and more tightness in their neck and
back to compensate. Take an hour and give your horse a spa
day. They will love you for it.
4) Fix your horse and yourself. If you notice your horse is
having a problem check yourself out too. Many times we will
have our horse fixed and our body issues complicate the problem
and it reoccurs.
For instance, my mare recently twisted her sacrum and two
neck vertebrae out of alignment from bucking and playing hard
on the lunge line and doing some hill work the next day. I
had the veterinary chiropractor come out and work on Anna
and her alignment to correct the problem. I then realized
that I might be out of alignment as well and went to my chiropractor
for a check up. Indeed my sacrum was twisted to the right
and I had a muscle strain pulling it out of place. If I had
not addressed my issues then my lack of straightness would
have fed into her injuries and caused us more problems and
more injuries. Both you and your horse have to be corrected
when a misalignment happens. In your riding work focus on
being straight and even all the time.
5) Teeth floating. When your veterinarian comes out to give
your horse his/her Spring shots have the vet also check your
horse’s mouth and jaw joint. Or better yet have a professional
equine dentist go over your horse’s mouth at least once per
year to smooth out sharp edges, check for abscesses, level
and balance the horse’s glide in his/her bite and chewing.
(Many times vets will simply give a cursory going over and
filing while much more is required to make a difference.)
I have my mare checked every 6 months by a professional dentist
because she demands it. She has gotten used to a comfortable
mouth and so now whenever she feels any discomfort she tells
me by getting very busy with her mouth during her work and
tilting her head in discomfort. My dentist gives her a “performance
float” which smoothes out any rough or sharp edges. He doesn’t
take any height off the teeth just rounds out the bit seat
and any other uncomfortable areas. This makes both of us very
6) West Nile Virus. Talk to your vet about this virus in your
area. It is forecast to be rampant again this year. It is
very bad here in Colorado and everyone I know vaccinates twice
during the warm months as a preventive measure.
7) Now for you!! I know you really don’t want to hear this
but you must be ready for riding now too. If you can, take
a Pilates class, and never stop. Or at least get the videos
and a ball and start working on strengthening your abdominal
core. I plan to make Pilates a lifelong practice. It has greatly
improved my riding ability and lowered my discomfort and injury
I see many women who constantly struggle to ride western pleasure,
or dressage, or hunters, whatever, when they do not have to
struggle if they will put body work into their lives. Your
horse will be more manageable, you will accomplish more, you
will have less wear and tear on your joints and you will be
so proud of your partnership! Stop the endless cycle of trying
and trying and never getting better. Are you taking care of
your body? Does your saddle support and fit you properly?
Please for your horse’s sake do something to improve your
own fitness level.
Keep your email questions coming; I enjoy hearing from all
of you. I am currently planning clinics in Des Moines, IA
for early May and Santa Fe/Albuquerque, NM for later May and
taking on private students locally.
Equestrian Resources PO Box 20187 Boulder, CO 80308 USA