Does Winter Weather Mellow Moody Mares?

A mare’s reproductive cycle is controlled by her hormones, which are in turn influenced by the amount of sunlight a mare is exposed to. 

When the days begin to get longer in early spring, mares enter estrus, meaning eggs mature and are released every 19 to 22 days – she could be bred and carry a foal during this time. 

Shorter winter days mean less sunlight, which in turn leads to lower hormone levels – and often mellower mares. Estrus often triggers impatience, aggression, and sullen attitudes because of the increase in hormone levels. Lowered levels lead to more even-keeled mares.

As daylight becomes more limited in late fall, mares begin to produce more melatonin, which shifts their bodies into anestrus, when no eggs are released. By the time the winter solstice and the shortest days of the year come on, a mare will be in the throes of anestrus and may seem more relaxed and easygoing.

Not all attitude adjustments are hormone-related, however, so if a mare has a drastic change in attitude or seems ill, a call to the vet is warranted. 

Read more at EQUUS magazine

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