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Franklin Levinson's

Horse Help Center

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My New Mare

Hi, I just bought my first horse which is a mare. When I bought her she was very calm and gentle. I saw her again before they delivered her, and she was the same way. As soon as she got to the barn where she will be staying with about 30 other horses, her attitude changed. She has been moody, and hyper. She doesn't seem as happy as she did. I was told it's the new environment, and she needs to adjust to it. However, the place I bought her only had her for about 2 weeks before I bought her, so she couldn't have been that attached yet. She seems like a totally different horse. I was told that she might also be in heat, although she wasn't acting like she is now last week when I bought her. She is at a barn with mares and geldings, and had to be separated from a gelding and mare in the paddock because they didn't get along. When she urinates, she almost squats like a dog, I was told this is a sign of being in heat. She is also very occupied while she is being exercised by looking everywhere else then where she should be. Do you think she is in heat, or is she just adjusting to her new environment? At this point, I can not even ride her because she is so hyper, which she wasn't when I rode her before I bought her, and the trainer is now working her to get her out of it. She has a totally different personality it seems. Also, at the place I bought her, she wasn't turned out, and stayed in her stall all day. When she arrived at the new barn, she stayed in her stall most of the day, and the next day she was turned out all day. Since she wasn't getting along with a couple of the other horses in the paddock, she now stays a half day in her stall and half day in a paddock by herself. If she is in heat, how often and for how long will this happen? Is her behavior changed do to a change in environment? How long will it take for her to adjust? My other concern is that the place I bought her, gave her medication to make her calm when I bought her, knowing I was coming. From what I have told you, what do you think?
Thank you, Marion

Hi Marion,

Did the people you got her from say they had given her something to calm her down before you came to see her? Or, are you guessing they may have done that? That is actually quite a serious and illegal thing to do; misrepresenting the nature of a horse to make a sale is a criminal offense.

It is certainly understandable for a horse to take quite some time to settle in to a new home. There are new relationships to be formed, new routines, new handlers, different feed and water; everything is new which makes for a nervous and unsure horse for quite a while, perhaps several months. If the mare is in heat, which it sounds like she actually is, that will compound the problems she is having. Squatting to urinate is something a mare may do when in the midst of their estrus cycle. They have this cycle every four to six weeks throughout the year (it varies a great deal just like with humans). During the spring the cycles can be heavier and more noticeable as the male horses, even though they are gelded, may become more interested. Just like women, some mares have a more difficult time with their cycles than others. What is her breed? Hot blooded breeds like Arabians and Thoroughbreds may have a harder time during estrus, as opposed to quarter horses or Morgan's (cold blooded and generally calmer).

If she were my horse I would be spending a lot of time with her playing games and doing ground exercises. I wouldn't be riding the horse until I felt she had settled down a lot and was more relaxed in her new home. Unless you are en extremely competent and experienced rider, this will put more pressure on the horse which she does not need right now. The interaction you have on the ground with the horse is extremely important and more significant than you riding the mare at this time. This is what will set you up as the great leader/parent for your horse, which is what she needs right now. You need to be her steadying influence, her solid base, something consistent she can trust in. Do ground games and basic ground maneuvers with her such as lunging, leading, turning, backing, figure eights, lunging over small jumps and sending her in and out of things. There are lots of things to with a horse while you are on the ground. This will bond you with the mare, get you used to her and vise/versa. It will begin the relationship of trust and respect between you both. See her through this hard transition time by becoming the great Mom/leader for her. Be consistently kind, compassionate and precise in your requests for her. Always say thank you by giving a GOOD GIRL when she does as you ask. Do not over input the mare with too much touching. Show her a lot of respect for her personal space by always greeting her and connecting before you get physically close to her. If she gets too close to your personal boundary, shake the lead rope at her or wave your hand in front of her face and say NO. Establishing boundaries is important for both of you. The more interaction you have with the mare on the ground the better. Again, this is not about the human activity of riding the horse. This is about the horse itself and your relationship with her and not about your agenda of riding. Let your agenda be the feelings of safety and trust you can establish with the mare first and foremost. This will be done by the quality of the interaction, just as it would with a new human relationship.

Please let me know how it all goes. I am here to help and very interested. Thank you again for reaching out for assistance. I extend Blessings to you and your loved ones for a wonderful and love filled Holiday Season.

Sincerely, Franklin

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