Herbs for Seasonal Mares February 07 2017
This article was published in issue 107 of Holistic Horse Magazine and is re-printed here with permission. We have some good hormonal mare support products in the store including Easy Mare- which is an herbal blend that includes many of the herbs mentioned here.
My good friend Kate insists that she only likes mares. “Only mares, no geldings, no thank you!” I always thought she was crazy. I mean, why would you want to put up with an animal who was testy and irritable more than half the year? As a woman, I sympathize with mares’ cycles, but I love my always-the-same, ploddy, mellow gelding, so I really didn’t get her perspective. “Because, they have that oomph! You know, they have that extra boost to keep them going, while gelding are just … well boring!”
Love your mare but not her moods?
The good news is that Regumate, one of the more popular equine progesterone treatments for mares on the market, is not the only option you may have to regulate her cycles.
To understand fully how these drugs work, first, let’s briefly review the science behind mares’ cycles—when they happen and why. Mares typically have their seasons between April and September in North America. The rest of the year, their cycles are normally dormant. The timing of this activity is related to the amount of daylight during any period during a calendar year. This is why a mare’s shedding season often correlates with her going into season. A mare’s cycle also lasts 21 days (not 28 days, like a woman), with typically 5 days of being in “heat,” and exhibiting various forms of irritability.
You can prepare your mare in advance for her cycles, and everything that comes along with them. If you are looking for a herbal remedy for her, it is best to start her on the herbs as she is entering her cycles, especially if the purpose of the supplement is to balance her hormones, versus ease her symptoms and make her more comfortable. Herbal supplements must be used for over one month before you may see a major change (give herbs two cycles, or six weeks). Herbs work in an additive way, where prolonged use over time will compound so that you see an eventual change, as the horse’s body absorbs more of the ingredients.
What kinds of herbs are ideal?
It completely depends on what you are treating. Do you know why your mare is irritable? Is it a hormonal imbalance or is she simply uncomfortable? Us ladies know how bad cramping can be, and it certainly can make us irritable and low energy as well even if our cycles are regular. You should consult with your veterinarian and keep a journal of your mare’s cycles and symptoms so that you can figure this part out. Please note that mares can have abnormal cycles during the transitional periods as well- at the beginning and end of the cycle season.
For mares with hormonal imbalances that cause issues, this is what is recommended:
- Chaste Tree Berry — Chaste Tree Berry has been shown in multiple studies to regulate the pituitary gland, and as such is often a recommended treatment for Cushings, but can also be very helpful for hormonal balances. The pituitary gland regulates hormones in horses, and this herb can act as a progesterone-creator of sorts, so as to even out the effects of hormonal changes throughout the cycle. Of the herbal remedies, this one is the closest to Regumate in how it works on the mare’s cycles.
For mares whose irritability may be physical in nature, such as cramps, back pains, etc., it would likely be more effective to feed her herbs that are anti-inflammatory and calming so that you can ease her pain. If one does not produce the desired results, try another herb—and remember, not all herbs interact with each mare’s body in the same way.
- Vervain, Cramp Bark, Yarrow, Rosemary, Lemon Balm — These herbs are known to relax the uterine muscle and be antispasmodic. Top-dress her feed with dried flowers or an herbal powder or infuse in water and add to feed.
- Valerian, Chamomile — Chamomile is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and can help with cramps and uterine bloating. These herbs are also used commonly for reducing anxiety and stress, which of course can be an issue for mares in pain. Top-dress her feed with dried flowers or an herbal powder or infuse in water and add to feed.
- Rasberry Leaf, Blue Cohosh — Both herbs are known as a “uterine tonic” for mares; they both contains alkaloids that strengthen the uterus and pelvic region that can help with making your mare less susceptible to cramping/relieve the intensity of the discomfort. The best way to feed Blue Cohosh is in liquid form; Rasberry Leaf can be fed as a tea or in the form of a dried herb. Since these both help strengthen the uterine area, it may be advised to feed these even while your mare is not on her cycle.
- Dong Quai — Often prescribed by acupuncturists for women, this Chinese herb contains ferulic acid that can relieve cramping and relax the uterine muscle. The most common way to feed this is via an herbal powder.
- Dandelion Leaves — Dandelion is a known diuretic and liver cleanser. Mares may experience water retention during their menstrual cycle and this can help to relieve symptoms. Additionally, the liver regulates hormones and can help balance your mare’s cycles out.
There are many supplements on the market that include these herbs or you can purchase these herbs separately and feed them. Be sure to consult your veterinarian prior to use, especially if you are planning to breed your mare or if she is pregnant, as some of these herbs can have a negative impact on pregnancy. Lastly, enjoy your mare, embrace her cycles, and, in my friend Kate’s words, take the oomph with the spice!
Many of these herbs have contraindications. Please reference an authority before using any herbs.
Benefits of Marshmallow Plants- Althaea Officinalis January 18 2017S’mores for horses anyone? Just kidding… although today’s standard marshmallows don’t include any althaea officinalis, they once did include a mixture of sugar, egg whites, and ground marshmallow root. Known for the mucilage that is contained in its leaves and roots that has emollient and demulcent properties, Marshmallow is more than a sweet campfire treat; it is also an effective treatment for digestive ulcers, urinary tract irritations, and respiratory issues.
Omega 3 Supplements – the Old and the New October 10 2016Hello Whole Equine Readers! I wanted to share this great article from one of my favorite equine nutritionists, Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D.. I often am asked by my customers what the best source of Omega 3 supplements are; this is a great explanation of what is out there and what may be best for your horse. In our shop we carry Camelina Oil and Organic Flax Seed Oil, which are both mentioned below. Enjoy- I hope you find this helpful and informative. - M
Mushroom Madness! February 27 2016
Feed my horse mushrooms?!? Say what?!?!
That’s right, mushrooms just might be the answer for your big buddy. Mushrooms have recently become a hot topic in the holistic health world, and for good reason. One of the word’s most potent superfoods, mushrooms have been shown to be a natural source of vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants that result in an incredible immunity boost for our furry pals (and ourselves), assisting with tumors, anti-inflammatory response, insulin issues, and much more.
Don't Tick Me Off! February 03 2016El Nino has the ticks coming out in droves here on the Nor Cal coast. Ticks like warm, moist weather, and with the drought we’ve been having, all of our recent heavy rains has encouraged them to abandon their hiding spots. Truth be told, however, ticks are an issue in much of the United States, and pose some serious risk of disease to our beloved four-legged friends. I wanted to take a minute to share some advice on how to control the tick problem this year so everyone can be more comfortable and healthy.
Picking with a Purpose December 07 2015Well the rains (and for some snows!) have finally come, and here in CA we are now enjoying our sloppy mud mucking, getting our faces covered in dust every time we groom the mud off our horses, and last but not least, picking out stinky, black, gooey hooves. So, I thought I’d leave you all a note about thrush- what it is and what you can do about it.
Natural Drought Solutions October 30 2015The other day, I mentioned to my barnmate that Whole Equine now carries a waterless shampoo from Espana SILK, and her response was, “Waterless Shampoo? What a great thing to offer during a drought!”. Well, I honestly hadn’t though of that, but she’s right. This got my wheels turning; why not offer some tips on how to save water AND continue to care for your horse naturally during one of the worst drought seasons in the West? Well, while waiting for El Nino to hit, here’s some tips:
Treat the Whole Horse October 05 2015Yawn, lick chew…. yawn lick chew… chew…. yawn… chew…. Desario is tied up to a post, thoroughly enjoying and experiencing his latest visit from Davina. Yes, he’s a pretty spoiled old guy to get his massages, and yes I get kind of jealous, but the benefit these visits bring him are visibly immense. Moving down his neck, she presses at a center point on the crest, and moves away and then into her pressure, and lets out another huge yawn. Davina looks and me and smiles, “You see? This is a pressure point for him- a little stiffness and inflammation here.”
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