Ask Tigger: Help! I Have a Grumpy Mare
Lately my horse fits the grumpy mare stereotype more often than not, but she used to be much happier. We’ve had a saddle fitter out, tried different bits, and increased her turnout, but nothing seems to help much. Is there anything I can do to support her nutritionally?
– Megan D.
Great question! The first thing to realize is that this is not a “one size fits all” situation. There are many factors that come into play when you have a grumpy mare. Just because a friend also has a horse that is cranky does not mean that both horses are suffering from the same problem. The things that need to be discussed at the beginning of this investigation are:
- The mare’s lifestyle
- The level of work she’s in and what kind of work she does
- How old she is
- Any hormonal issues
- Potential pain issues
- The last time she had a healthy horse check and had her CBC pulled
- Then, consider her diet: what kind of hay she does she get, and what does her turnout look like?
As with any issue, it is a lot more in-depth than just saying, “Hey, I’ve got a grumpy mare; what supplement can you give me?” BioStar is unique because we address each horse as an individual and consult with you in-depth about programs we can tailor specifically to your horse.
That being said, I’ll outline some of the common problems mares face.
Hormones and How You Can Help Balance Them
There is always a hormonal component with a mare. You can never underestimate a grumpy mare who feels like humans do when we have PMS!
If the hormonal issues aren’t so bad that you need something like Regu-mate®, one of the things that I have found really helpful is hemp seed oil. Hemp seed oil contains gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) which the body uses to convert to prostaglandin E1 (PGE-1), assisting a healthy inflammatory response. Misoprostol, which is a drug commonly used for glandular ulcers and hindgut ulcers, is a synthetic prostaglandin.
The advantage of using prostaglandin therapy with a hormonal imbalance is that you actually end up lowering prostaglandin E2 (PGE-2), which is the pro-inflammatory prostaglandin, and elevating prostaglandin E1, which is the anti-inflammatory prostaglandin. When a mare starts feeling uncomfortable during her cycle, it’s probably an elevation of the pro-inflammatory prostaglandins.
Getting Gut Health on Track
Sometimes horses are grumpy because of stomach discomfort, or their gut in general.
The first step in this scenario would be to discuss the issues with your veterinarian and consider gastric support:
- Have the horse scoped and see whether ulcers are prevalent. If so, are they squamous or glandular?
- Is the horse ulcer sensitive and in need of some more aggressive support such as GastroGard® or Omeprazole®?
- You can also call upon trained bodyworkers, chiropractors, massage therapists, or physiotherapists who can palpate some of the acupuncture points which may light up in the stomach meridian.
You could increase the mare’s access to alfalfa, which could, in turn, buffer the acid in the stomach and make the horse more comfortable.
You might need to get a little bit more gastric-specific and go with something such as BioStar’s Optimum GI, which is a multivitamin-mineral with pharmaceutical-grade pectin, the sunflower lecithin and Lion’s Mane medicinal mushrooms for polysaccharide protection.
Another consideration might be BioStar’s TriGard EQ, which is a paste that also uses the pectin and lecithin, as well as Sea Buckthorn and, of course, the medicinal Chinese mushrooms for the polysaccharides.
You could also go for something more therapeutic, which would be BioStar’s TheraGard EQ, which is a daily feed-through supplement that helps protect against ulcers in ulcer-prone horses.
The Stress Factor
The other component of a grumpy mare could be stress, which could also be at the root of ulcer sensitivity. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of addressing stress in performance horses. We cannot judge a horse’s stress on a human’s perception of stress. We are not horses. Horses are herd animals, and they like to be with their own kind. Maybe the mare has made an attachment to another horse, and she has moved to a new barn and does not have that friend. Or if there is a human in the barn that is really stressed out, horses pick up on that easily.
Addressing stress begins with cortisol, and BioStar has two products that help balance the stress hormones:
Equilibrium EQ is a cookie that helps reduce cortisol produced by the adrenal glands. 90% of serotonin, which is the “happy neurotransmitter,” is produced in the gut. So if you can keep the gut happy, you can help improve serotonin production.
Thera Calm EQ addresses the brain, gut, and adrenal axis. Not only is it helping to balance cortisol, but it is balancing the inflammatory response in the gut, and serotonin production in the brain.
One Size Does Not Fit All
When people look for supplements, they are often looking for an instant fix. However, it is so important to look down every avenue when trying to address any issues your horse might have. That is what sets BioStar apart. We want to talk to you about your horse, ask those important questions, make suggestions to discuss with your wellness team, and help you invest in the right supplements for your horse.
About the Author: With over 30 years experience in the equine and human supplement industry, Tigger Montague knows nutrition from the synthetic side as well as the whole food side. She started BioStar US in 2006 with formulas she created in her kitchen. Before she started the company, she was an avid rider and competitor with eventing and show jumping, until she got hooked on dressage in the late 1980’s. She has competed on horses she’s owned and trained all the way from training level to Grand Prix.
The contents of the BioStar blog are for information purposes only. They are not meant to be a diagnosis, treatment, or other substitute for veterinary advice. Your veterinarian is an integral part of your wellness team and we are proud to work alongside them to support your horse.