I have an Arabian mare we bought just three months ago. She was a little over weight, however now has lost weight in all

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Customer: I have an Arabian mare we bought just three months ago. She was a little over weight, however now has lost weight in all areas but her abdomin, and flank areas. She also is irratbale when I touch and feel these areas. Also she has small amount of milk in her udders. She has had 2 other foals with previous owner( Arab breeders), this was couple years ago. Also this mare doesnt want us to ride her, with flattened ears, and attempts at bucking. Previously she had been doing well in training two months ago with NO resistance. So what I have is a mare who has changed temperment, fat in the belly, and doesnt want any weight on her suddenly. I had a vet look at her, he only did a lameness exam and said she was fine. I have traininers who say she just needs a kick in the butt, however this mare has changed to much for me to just decide its a temper tantrum. Please help Ive never owned a mare in foal so not sure what the signs would be.
Answered by Dan C., DVM in 47 mins 12 years ago
Dan C., DVM
16+ years of experience

1,616 satisfied customers

Specialities include: Horse Veterinary, Large Animal Veterinary, Small Animal Veterinary


Sorry to hear about Celeste's change of attitude. This type of behavior can have varying causes from back pain to reproductive problems. A few questions for you:

1): Is the mare now in foal, and if so, when was her breeding date?

2): What type of training is she undergoing, and what is her previous use history?

3): When is the behavior at it's worst (riding, saddling, certain gaits), and does she behave normally when not being worked?

Thanks, XXXXX XXXXX'm looking forward to hearing from you.
I dont know if the mare is in foal ( this was why I questioned you!). Her previous history was a brood mare( foaled twice) had been started as a three yr old. Western pleasure. when started training back up after her 2nd foal ( 1 yr after) she started great with no problems- very eager to please horse. she then became irratble, very cinchy, and even though lost weight all over- retained big belly , with milk in her teats. Horse seems touchy in the flank areas and sides of belly- recently which had not been an issue 2 months ago.
Thanks for getting back to me:

The only way to determine if your mare is in foal is to have your vet perform a rectal exam /ultrasound for pregnancy determination and overall uterine/ovarian health. Although it's not particularly common for pregnant mares to react in the way that Celeste has been, it can happen. There is also another condition that should be considered; that of an ovarian tumor (known as a granulosa cell tumor). These benign tumors are not particularly uncommon, and they are often responsible for the type of behavior that you are observing ion Celeste. They are easily diagnosed via rectal exam, and depending on the size, can be removed (along with the affected ovary) during a standing procedure using only mild sedation.

It's certainly worth looking into, and could give you the answer you're looking for!

I trust I've helped, and please let me know if you have any further questions.

Thanks, XXXXX XXXXX of luck!

I've never had a mare in foal. So even if one is far along they wouldnt have a fit if you tried to ride them , cinch them, or canter ? There isnt any pain/ discomfort for the preg horse to behave this way? Paula

I have seen many instances of owners riding/showing/working their mares when they were unaware that she was in foal, only to be surprised with a baby one morning! Again, I recommend discussing with your vet the possibility of scheduling a reproductive exam.

Did you have any further questions?

Thanks again,

You said this horse could have an ovarian tumor ? I can understand a horse like that having pain while ridden or girth applied, as mine acts. However my mare will run, roll, lounge with absolutely no hesitance, lamenes, or indicator of any pain. She runs across the pasture to met us ! Wouldnt a tumor or problem in that area hurt consistantly ?

Not all horses read the book, so to speak, when it comes to pain associated behavior. A granulosa cell tumor can also cause abnormally high levels of estrogen, which in turn can cause behavioral changes as well as signs of pregnancy (udder development, etc.). It's still worth checking out, if nothing more than to rule out one more possible associated problem.

I am very confused as I have all my trainers at the barn telling me to kick this horses butt ( so to speak), and the vet want's to run all the expesive tests she can( which I cant afford.) how does one determine if behavior problem or physical with a horse?

It is relatively inexpensive to have your vet perform a rectal exam for pregnancy determination. Depending on your area, Veterinarian, etc., usually between $30-50.00. I would think that that would be worth the cost in helping to know in which direction to focus your energies and is a good place to start. To determine the differences between behavior problems versus physical problems, at least many of the physical possibilities can be definitively ruled out through simple testing. Behavior issues can take some time.

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Dan C., DVM
1,616 satisfied customers
16+ years of experience
Dan C., DVM
+ years of experience

1616 satisfied customers



Licensed veterinarians

31,131 satisfied customers

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