This weekend I had a most peculiar experience with all of my lady friends around the farm. Ever since this warm weather started to come around it seems that everyone has quite a bit more energy! I was really enjoying just standing near my run-in shed soaking up the warm sun, as I was doing recently, when suddenly the mood on the farm started to change.
The female horses in the pastures surrounding mine were acting very unusual – swishing their tails, pushing their bodies against the fence panels near me, whinnying and doing all sorts of things to get my attention. I finally awoke from my dozing off and took an interest in the extra friendliness of my neighboring ladies. Unfortunately, my favorite gal pal HugMe Christi didn’t find my interests as amusing as I did, and she began to get very agitated. From the fence, where the prancing mares and fillies were causing quite a commotion, I turned to see Christi reacting with an equal amount of energy. In hindsight, I think she was jealous that I was paying attention to the other girls and, boy, did she let me know it!
Christi did everything that she could to get my attention; running around like a barrel racer, whinnying and bolting through the pasture (very recklessly I might add!) and even throwing herself down on the ground in front of me, rolling around right under my nose! There were definitely a few close calls. She almost kicked me right in the jaw! I wasn’t sure what had gotten into her, other than the fact that she wasn’t receiving any of my attention. As for the other ladies, I believe there is another explanation rather than a devious desire to steal my interests away from my life-long girl, Christi.
Could this be related to the fact that we all started shedding our winter coats a few weeks ago, like I talked about in my last blog post? The answer is YES!
As we learned from my post, “Onward We Shed,” physiological reactions that happen around spring time are not due to “warmer days,” rather the changes are caused by INCREASED LIGHT (scientifically called a photoperiod). But, horses do a lot more than shed when the daylight increases! Specifically, female horses will begin their seasonal estrous cycle. During this time mares are receptive to breeding, ovulate and may become pregnant during the naturally occurring peak reproductive period April-September. If the mare becomes pregnant she will have her foal after 11 months of gestation in early spring/summer the following year.
Typically, the estrous cycle of mares lasts from 19 to 26 days in which 5-7 of these days (estrus) she can actually conceive a foal. Behavioral signs of estrus are evident as mares will become restless, hyperactive and less interested in eating and sleeping, as they seek out the attention of male horses like me! This definitely explains the running, bumping and whinnying for my attention in the pastures recently even though I am a gelding and not an intact stallion!
To understand more about reproduction and the mare’s estrous cycle take a look at these articles. And, if you have any stories like mine, be sure to post a quick note below so that all of our horsey readers can read it too!