The mare

It’s 7 am. My first test is in an hour, we trailered 342 miles yesterday, I’ve washed, braided, lunged… the mare looks perfect and now we are going to start our warm up. We’ve been training for so long and the canter work has been going just fantastic, our trot has never been better.

Today is the day we are going to beat my son. It’s just a fun goal, nothing of greatness. Really, I’m only riding for my pleasure and my horse’s. But yeah, in the back of my mind, I would sure like to have much better scores than my son. The mare and I work 5 nights a week. The boy and Twister only once or twice a week and they mainly go on trial rides. Now, don’t get me wrong, the boy rides horses for a living and he rides several horses a day. He just doesn’t make much time for his own horse.

The mare and I are in top form, we are ready. I mount and give the mare a little leg to walk into the warm up arena and…

The mare’s butt goes straight up and she pees.

Oh crap!! She’s in heat. How can she be in heat? I counted and it’s not until next week. Lots of leg, three more steps and she stops to pee again. Lovely.

Now what do I do? Do I scratch and call it a weekend? This is one of those times I wished I had a trainer to make the decision.

In the past years, the first heat in the spring and the last in the fall were bad. The rest of the year, you never knew when the mare was in heat. This year has been a mess. She’s not crabby or nasty and it only last for a day, maybe two. Her butt and tail go straight up and she pees and pees and pees.

It takes every ounce of energy in me to get her to move. I don’t want to kick her, it’s really not her fault … so leg.. leg.. leg and a tap with the stick and she will move off. It’s not pleasant to watch her move off. She will walk away like her legs are stiff poles and she waddles like a cow. I have yet to figure out if this her “I’m sexy… boys come check me out’… walk or if she is in agony. After a few laps, she will settle in, loosen up and move normally but she is only good for a very short time.

We received a lot of encouragement from the other riders. I will admit her canter was nice, more sluggishly relaxed with a consistent rhythm than normal, but she looked just like a western pleasure horse with her head hung low in the trot not a big moving dressage mare.

I’ve read all about the hormone treatments and aside from the cost, the side effects both to the horse and the person handling them is scary. If my mare became crabby and dangerous like I hear some do during this cycle, I would feel this treatment would be a necessary option, but she doesn’t.

After feeling very frustrated, we started to count the days until the next show: 21… oh no!!!

I called the our vet to see what could be done. I was told about a procedure where a large glass “shooter” size marble is inserted into a mare’s uterus to keep her from entering estrus. The marble tricks the mares to release hormones that create a pseudo-pregnancy. This procedure needs to be done 24 hours or less after the mare has ovulated. This practice appears to have no ill-effects on a mare’s uterus or fertility. It’s safer and less costly than the use of hormones. It’s not permanent and may only last for a few months. My vet said although this procedure does not work in all mares, she has had good results.

For $25.00 and the cost of a marble it’s worth a try.