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Mares in heat & copper bit
Posted by BuffaloMan at 2003-02-16 17:01:23
I'm told that for mares behaving badly in harness while in heat, a person can stop all that by using a bit wrapped with copper. Is there any validity to this concept? An old timer told me this today, and he says he was told the same thing by 3 different guys.
Response by Pace at 2003-02-16 17:54:34
I've heard about this copper thing with mares for many years. Don't know if it works or not, never had a mare that was a problem. There are many ways to use copper, a bag of pennies in water source, a copper plate in bottom of grain box. It's supposed to be the green mold that does the job. If you use the plate in the grain box you are supposed to turn it over every few days.
Response by Greg at 2003-02-16 20:06:08
Seriously, never heard this before. I'm curious to see if others have heard of or tried it.
Response by marty witman at 2003-02-16 20:08:55
Yes, Buffaloman, it true. It works for me and you can feed them on a sheet of copper in the bottom of feed bucket. I had a mare that always came right at the time of a horse pull so I did copper thing and it worked. Then I bred her and bought another gelding lol. Have a good day. marty
Response by Joe Bump at 2003-02-16 20:57:14
I have always liked mares better then geldings and what I believe is that when they cycle they have a dry mouth and the copper just makes them drool enough to stay comfy. I do use bits with copper inlays on my mares and think that is why they work
Response by Tina W. at 2003-02-17 09:12:19
From what I've read on books I've purchased from the Bookstore and personal experience, copper bits just irritate and annoy. They're supposed to cause excess saliva production (which they do), which is supposed to cause the mouth to be more sensitive to the bit, hence better control. I used to use a copper snaffle on my barrel mare years ago, then changed and never had a problem. I use stainless bits now. I also have always been partial to mares, and have never had one who gave me major problems when they were in heat. Of course, they were all light horses in my younger teen and 20s barrel racing days. I miss my mares, been thinking about getting one lately...hmmmm...
Response by Allison at 2003-02-17 10:06:29
That is interesting - I never heard that before. My Clyde mare doesn't act any different during her cycle. I use a bit that has a copper piece in the middle - don't know if it makes a difference or not. My pony mares are good in harness when in heat - but in the pasture with each other, A LOT more squealing and ear pinning goes on. They cycle at the exact same time, which is nice that they are both little snots together.
Response by Dale Wagner at 2003-02-17 12:07:26
Many people line a feedbox with copper to keep mares from cycling. Team ropers do it a lot just so they will have a steady disposition. If on this excess copper long enough, some mares will never cycle again.
Response by JW at 2003-02-18 13:00:11
Maybe it isn't so much the copper wire as the wire itself. When I first started my Percheron mare I had to use a twisted wire snaffle for control. Maybe it is the wire itself getting her attention. Driven and ridden mares a lot in my lifetime, I have heard the horror stories but never had it happen with my mares. Had one that would wink whenever we went to an open show, but it didn't influence her behavior in the ring. Work is work, play comes second.
Response by BuffaloMan at 2003-02-18 14:09:38
Thank you for the feedback. It seems lining the feed box with copper has the majority. One fellow told me that the copper wrapped bit took his mare out of heat in 15 minutes. Everyone seemed to know about this except me. This month I have 7 student horses here to learn to work in harness, 5 of which are mares. With all that squealling & moaning, my barn is like a girls' dorm, or Villa Life during the first few episodes of "Joe Millionaire." I've heard before when a large group is housed together that by some quirk they naturely synchronize their cycles. This week has been a mess!
Response by T Baker at 2003-02-18 20:51:10
I've never had a problem working my mares in heat. This is the first I've heard of the copper thing. It just shows to go ya that you are never too old to learn. Thanks for the info.
Response by BuffaloMan at 2003-02-19 18:05:51
I'm wondering what our resident Vet has to say about this copper idea.
Response by Tina W. at 2003-02-19 18:59:08
I too would be very interested. I think what folks here mean when referring to copper 'taking a mare out of heat,' is since the bit produces excessive saliva, one may assume her mouth is softer therefore she is allegedly (I've read and experienced different), more responsive to the bit. I know when I bite into something sour, or eat after not eating for many hours, my mouth waters excessively. I don't feel like my gums are more sensitive to my silverware, but it is very annoying and 'puckering'! I just don't see a copper bit taking a mare out heat literally, as in her cycle stopping. Can anyone add to this?
Response by Beth Valentine, DVM, PhD at 2003-02-19 19:11:23
Can't say I've ever heard of this either. BuffaloMan, do let us know what you think after trying this.
Response by BuffaloMan at 2003-02-21 20:43:35
After one night of having a copper plate in each feed box, they stood like angels the next morning: no kicking, peeing, squealing or moaning. They also hitched & drove without incident. These are all green horses that have only been hitched a few times each, one of which is 8 yrs old. Out of 8 horses in the barn 5 were in heat at the same time. When I used to try and raise colts my mares would never come around in this cold weather. My mares will be eating off of copper plates from now on, unless it's a brood mare.
Response by CS at 2003-02-22 14:55:00
This just sounds too strange.

Are they spending a lot of time playing with the copper in their mangers, or licking it?

Has anyone ever done blood-tests for copper deficiency in especially squeally mares? (I'm not sure if that's the right test -- in some animals you have to do a liver biopsy to find a copper deficiency).

Sounds great, but I wonder why it works?

Response by Tina W. at 2003-02-22 18:42:33
Could you please explain to me how this works? What type of chemical reaction causes them to go out of heat? And do they literally stop their cycle? I've never heard of this, but am very interested. Anyone else who could shed some light on this subject? More info. please.
Response by BuffaloMan at 2003-02-23 00:14:42
There is no scientific proof. This is like an old wive's tale that works. Nobody knows why. I've asked my Vet, who is the Guru of Bison & also drives mules. He believes it works but can't explain why it works. You know a lot of old cowboys, who walk kinda low in the heels, can know more than some College Professors when it comes to handling animals. Someone mentioned that it may not be the copper, it may be the mold on the copper, and to turn it over every 3 or 4 days. This is all new to me, also.
Response by CS at 2003-02-23 17:20:13
Buffalo man,
the "mold" on the copper is just an oxide of copper, like rust is an oxide of iron -- from when the metal reacts with moisture and oxygen in the air. I think it's also called "verdigris" aka "green stuff."

So . . . something about copper oxides affects these mares. Is it taste or is it medicinal? Dr. Beth?

I don't know if anybody remembers this, but some human IUDs (intra-uterine devices, birth-control) used to be coated with copper, because they were supposed to be more spermicidal or something -- don't recall hearing anything about them affecting cycling.

Response by Beth Valentine, DVM, PhD at 2003-02-23 22:29:43
Sorry, but I don't have a clue as to how a copper plate in the feed bunk might affect cycling in mares! This is a very interesting thread, though. I remember the Copper 7 IUDs, but don't remember why they were introduced. Of course, comparing cycling in women and cycling in mares probably is not valid for a number of reasons.
Response by KM at 2003-02-24 13:27:28
May I suggest that NEVER compare a woman to a horse, cycling or otherwise. Did once and lived to regret it.

Response by ken gminski at 2003-02-24 19:48:47
"May I suggest that NEVER compare a woman to a horse"

How about we go back and see who thought the mares were more difficult, the boys or the girls.
Response by Ricki Redneck at 2003-02-25 05:47:32
Let's say a mare is like a woman. While most women would not lick the mold off of any precious metal in the company of others outside her stable, it is one of the Great Seven Facts of The World that just the sight or smell of any precious metal will cause phenomenal medical transformations, both emotional and physical, in women. Why not in mares? Maybe it goes back to our premarin days, a happier time, when we were all baboons.
Response by Tawny at 2003-02-25 13:51:48
I can answer the question about why there is copper on IUDs. Copper inhibits sperm motility. IUDs work by causing low levels of inflammation in the uterine wall, thus not allowing a fertilized egg to implant. However, as a back up, the copper slows the sperm and/or damages it in such a way that the ability of the sperm to penetrate the egg is greatly diminished. Less fertilized eggs, less chance of pregnancy. At least that's how it is in humans.
Response by KM at 2003-03-05 14:17:16
How is the copper experiment working out? I have been asking questions of "well seasoned" horsemen around here and none knew of this. I have asked my vet brother and he said some teamters swear by copper and others see little effect.

Just Courious.
Response by BuffaloMan at 2003-03-06 15:15:01
I think it's working. It's been 3 weeks now & I noticed one of the four mares is in heat now. However, she had gotten her copper plate out of her feed box without me noticing it. The other 3 are not showing. If it doesn't keep them from coming into heat, perhaps it does take the edge off so they are not so nuts! Three weeks ago when they were in heat, it seemed to cause them to stop being in heat, all the same day.

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