Teasing Mares

Teasing mares can be a time-consuming and boring procedure, but it is essential if one is to detect when a mare is in estrus. Unfortunately, all mares do not react to teasing in the same manner, so one approach doesn’t suit all.
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Teasing mares
The one-on-one technique has been used to greatest advantage at most breeding farms. | Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse
Teasing mares can be a time-consuming and boring procedure, but it is essential if one is to detect when a mare is in estrus. Unfortunately, all mares do not react to teasing in the same manner, so one approach doesn’t suit all. There will be mares which show themselves to be in season at the mere sight or sound of an approaching stallion, while others will show subtle signs that only can be detected by an experienced handler or veterinarian. Whatever the case, modern science has found no replacement for teasing to detect estrus in mares.

In very small breeding operations, the teasing can be done with the breeding stallion, but this is a sure way to develop a frustrated horse which is difficult to handle and can become rank and overly aggressive. Needed is a teasing stallion that is aggressive, but not abusive to mares. Teasers range from ponies to full-size stallions of varying breeds. The good teaser is a male that will “talk” to mares.

Edward L. Squires, PhD, of Colorado State University, underlines the importance of teasing when he states:

“Inadequate or improper teasing constitutes a major cause of poor reproduction performance in the mares. Normally, cycling mares should be teased daily with at least one stallion. Mares that have not achieved normal cycles and mares exhibiting the first day of diestrus should be teased with two stallions. The mare should be teased by the stallion head to head, at the buttocks, and at the external genitalia

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Les Sellnow was a prolific freelance writer based near Riverton, Wyoming. He specialized in articles on equine research, and operated a ranch where he raised horses and livestock. He authored several fiction and nonfiction books, including Understanding Equine Lameness and Understanding The Young Horse. He died in 2023.

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