Thursday, August 15, 2013

Losing Her Marbles

Well, it's that time already.... time for O to come back into heat again. BAH.

Gogo was an exception to the annoying in-heat mare rule. Every time she'd come into heat, she listened better under saddle, was more malleable and responsive, and did exceptionally well at shows (we joked that we ought to give her Estrumate before every show just to make sure she'd come in and behave herself!). It was like she was a little less self-assured, so she'd look to me more as a leader. It was AWESOME.

O is the total opposite of that. When she comes in, she'd rather have nothing to do with me. Normally, she's a total peach, very interactive and loving, a total attention hog and a snuggler who comes right to you in the pasture. When she's in heat, the first sign of it is not wanting to be caught. Today I caught her snuggling over the fence with one of her Blonde Boyfriends, and then when I went to go groom her, she left. Come on, we're just grooming, you can do it while we're eating dinner, we don't have to work today! She eventually gave in, and I inspected a nice big bite mark on her butt which no doubt was from her very studdish Blonde Boyfriend. Yep.... she's coming in again.

She gets super distractable and flighty when she's in heat. She can't focus on eating, sleeping, doing regular things... she's just constantly on the search for another horse to flirt with. She is balky and sticky and cranky under saddle. She wants next to nothing to do with me and leaves whenever I show up. And it's hard to say whether or not there was a serious correlation, but that horrible terrible no good very bad jump school we had? Right during her peak cycle, when she was at her most distractable and crappy-feeling. Every other jump school? TOTALLY different horse. She's 100% hit and miss under saddle on the flat either way when she's in - sometimes she's OUTRAGEOUSLY HORRIBLE, sometimes she's ok, but she's definitely a wild animal when she's cycling. She's already on raspberry leaves and magnesium... chaste berry is probably worth a try too. 

There is another option which I am definitely interested in trying - marbling. I'm really NOT a fan of giving supplemental hormones unless there is really a good reason for it - like if she was honestly trying to kill herself or kill me. (Let's face it, hormones are super powerful and super scary! I'm not keen to mess with you, Mother Nature!) The marbling procedure involves placing a specially sized glass marble into the mare's uterus, which tricks her into thinking she is pregnant. This procedure can be somewhat hit and miss... some people swear by it, other people have had their mares expel the marble or come right back into heat anyway. I like this idea the most because a) it is cost effective, b) it is reversible, c) it doesn't need to be given daily/monthly like oral or injectable hormones do, and d) the mare produces the necessary progesterone by herself instead of being artificially given them. 

I have a call in to my vet to discuss some options. Either way, something needs to be done.... dealing with In-Heat Demon Child isn't a lot of fun. Any success stories out there with marbling versus depo/Regumate/etc?

I decided after all was said and done that she should have a little two-week vacation after her awesome schooling last weekend, so she has been relaxing and enjoying herself this week. She's been working super hard and doing very well, and I will be gone all of next week anyway for my own vacation to Michigan (excited!), so I figured she could have a little down time herself. I think it's important to let them have breaks like that... it's something I never did with Gogo, and I regret it now. She won't be ready for the little schooling show at WD at the end of the month, but maybe we can shoot for the one at Curragh in early Sept. I'm going through my list of schooling shows today and making some more solid plans!

EDITED TO ADD: Here is the update list of hopeful shows for the year! Ones in bold are a definite yes (if all goes well, of course), ones that are just in italics are maybes.

Sept 7th-8th: Curragh Open Schooling & Schooling HT (Schooling Sat, HT Sun)
Sept 21st-22nd: Lazy Dog Ranch Open Schooling & Schooling HT (Schooling Sat, HT Sun)

Oct 5th-6th: Curragh Open Schooling & Schooling HT (Schooling Sat, HT Sun)
Oct 19th-20th: Quail Run Open Schooling & Schooling HT (Schooling Sat, HT Sun)
Oct 26th: 5th Annual Brazos Valley Hunt Fun Show & Trail Ride Challenge

Nov 3rd: Lazy Dog Ranch Schooling H/J Show
Nov 4th: Curragh Schooling Dressage Show
Nov 9th-10th: Texas Rose HT (MAYBE, but it's a BIG maybe!)
Nov 16th-17th: Greenwood Farm Open Schooling & CT (Schooling Sat, CT Sun)
Nov 23rd-24th: Meadow Creek Park HT (MAYBE, if all is going well... this one is further and significantly more expensive than the others due to the fact that it coincides with a recognized event!)

Dec 7th: Las Colinas Schooling Dressage Show

Looking ahead at these potential schooling shows makes me realize how NOT PREPARED I am for going back in the show ring! The last time I ever turned down a proper centerline was at the AECs in 2009. Ya'll, that is FIVE YEARS AGO. I don't even know if half my show tack is still around, and I don't even have the slightest idea when any of these shows open and close. There is SO much to do!!


  1. I just had this conversation with my vet. She went to school at Ohio State, and worked at a big specialty equine clinic in North Carolina prior to moving to MD. She does not believe in the marble at all. She told me that in her experience, both while in vet school working at the large animal hospital and in NC, she rarely saw it work. I was bummed at this news, as it was the option I was considering for my own flighty, overreactive, hyperactive, distracted-when-in-heat mare. She strongly recommended Regumate above all else. I recently spoke with two ladies who have very strong, opinionated mares, who have had them on Regumate during the warm months only for the last year. They RAVE about the hormones. I witnessed the changes in their mares. Both were unsafe to ride when they were in heat. Now, while still being opinionated, they are much mellower consistently overall.
    It is expensive, which was another reason why I didn't want to go that route, but I'm seriously considering it. Since my mare is currently still rehabbing from a minor ligament strain (which involves giving ace to ride) I may wait until next spring to try it. We're also going to be doing some management changes first that I'm hoping will help. We'll see. It will be interesting to read about your experience if you go the marble route for O.

  2. When dealing with Lucy's hormonal crap, my vet said don't waste my money on a marble. Also, depo doesn't work in mares, only geldings (heard that from three vets, actually). The best way to go is raspberry leaves or regumate. Personally I was not willing to do anything with regumate.

  3. Have you tried skullcap? It's an herb we use on both mares and geldings to help calm them down and help them focus. It's works on the nervous system, so I don't know how well it would work while she's in heat. The mares we have on it aren't that much different in heat than out.

  4. Oh mares. I'm very lucky I've never had to deal with crazy-mare-in-heat syndrome.

  5. Once upon a time we did the progesterone implants every few months under the skin with my pony mare. Worked like a charm. (back in the 90's)

    Nowdays I'd go with the Chaste Tree Berry or the Raspberry leaves first thing IMO.

  6. Ugh I am SO familiar with crazy mare in heat syndrome... right now, I have her on SmartMare Harmony from SmartPak and it is working well. But my vet also suggested regumate and I am just not eager to be loading my horse up with hormones, especially because she is not dangerous or anything, just a nutcase (but a safe nutcase!)

    Good luck with your girl

  7. Thanks everybody. She's already on a HEAPING dose of raspberry leaf so that's already been covered. It really helped Gogo, I've seen no change in O. Skullcap, that's a new one... does that test?
    I didn't know that about depo not working on mares, you learn something new every day... and I was a breeding major in college!
    I'm really not keen to do anything with hormones either unless I *have* to.... this might be one of those cases though. Winter, come faster!!!!

    1. I don't know if skullcap tests or not. We use it on the school horses that only do small schooling shows where we don't have to worry about it.

  8. Several summers I have used a cow implant on Shiney. It was recommended by the main (and awesome) vet at Stillwater Equine in Minnesota. Of course I can't remember what it was but I could contact the vet easily enough. Anyway, it was similar to marbling but it was implanted under the skin between the front legs. She did fabulously with it, lasted an entire summer/show season and they dissolve so once implanted, no worries about removing them. Tiny incision and 2 stitches. Vet offered to teach me how to do it myself even. I declined.

  9. Just my two cents:

    While studies show that Depo doesn't keep a mare from going into heat a number of Vets swear that it does help "even out" mares.

    Regumate is the tried and true path. I've never heard of anyone not liking it. It also comes in a compounded version that you give every 7- 10 days IM. Costs around $20 per shot.

    I'd say 30% of the horses I know have been Marbled have responded favorable. No one had a bad response, just no response.

    Good luck! I had a raging heat mare as a kid.

  10. Just thought I'd chime in-
    We had to use Regumate for an unrelated reason (so a mare didn't miscarry her foal late term from placentitis) but I have nothing bad to say about it.
    We used an oral type which you squirted over feed once daily (wearing gloves so as not to let it touch your skin!- does bad things to human ladies). She ate it up as if it wasn't there, and was in particularly good spirits throughout her pregnancy.

    If finance isn't an issue, trying a marble won't do anything BAD, but it's unlikely it will help (looking at statistics).

    Good luck!

  11. I had no idea they came into heat so frequently, but it sounds like O becomes a stroppy floozie of a thing when she does!

  12. My first mare had the marble put in, and she was SO MUCH BETTER afterwards. Her subsequent owners were able to remove the marble and breed her within the next year. I definitely recommend it over Regumate or anything similar.