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Teasing is a vital part of routine gynaecological management of mares. It is a method used to detect the presence and stage of oestrus. It is often a time consuming process, but ideally it should be performed daily throughout the breeding season. Teasing can help increase conception rates and allow for more efficient use of breeding stallions.

Signs of Oestrous

Positive Signs of Oestrous

  • Winking of the vulva
  • Raised tail
  • Leaning hindquarters toward the stallion / fence-pushing
  • Squatting
  • Urinating

Negative Signs of Oestrous

  • Ears Back
  • Squealing
  • Kicking
  • Striking

It should be noted that there are enormous individual differences between mares. It is important to keep good records of the oestrous signs of individual mares, because although there is considerable variation between mares, the individual mare tends to display the same signs from cycle to cycle. It is often useful for the stud farm to develop an oestrous-scoring system to quantify the observations.

Maiden mares, mares in foal, timid mares and those teased at the start of the breeding season may not exhibit signs of oestrous as readily as other mares. In addition, hot, cold, windy or rainy weather and fly-worry may have an detrimental effect on oestrous display.


Ideally individual teasing should be performed as it allows closer observation of each mare. It should be performed in a stress-free and familiar environment, and extra time (up to 20 minutes) should be allowed in recently foaled or maiden mares. It should be noted that some mares will only show signs of oestrous if their foal is/isn't present. The mares should be observed carefully before, during and after contact with the stallion for any signs of oestrous.

(1) Individual Teasing

  • Stall Teasing

The stallion is placed in a stable with a half-door open. This allows him to move freely and access the mare. The mare should be presented to the stallion behind a teaser board so that she cannot move away. This method is ideal as it minimises the risk of injury to the mare, stallion and handlers.

  • Rail Teasing

Both the stallion and the mare are brought into an area separated from each other and the handlers by a rail of an appropriate height. It is more labour intensive as it requires handlers for both the mare and the stallion, but it presents minimal risk to the handlers.

(2) Group Teasing

  • Paddock Teasing

The stallion is walked up to a field of mares, and the mares are observed for signs of oestrus. It should be noted that some mares may show signs of oestrous without coming up to the stallion. Advantages include minimum labour, however it should only be attempted with small groups of mares as the handler will have to observe them all simultaneously for signs of oestrus. It is better suited to mares without foals at foot.

  • Teasing Chute

This method involves placing the mares in a race and then presenting a teaser stallion to them. Large numbers of mares can be teased with this method. It is also better suited to mares without foals at foot.

  • Teasing Cage

The stallion is enclosed in a small paddock or pen and the mares are observed for signs of oestrus. This is a more natural method, however it may be necessary to lead mares up to the stallion if they have failed to approach him voluntarily.

Teasing Learning Resources
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Test your knowledge using flashcard type questions
Equine Reproduction and Stud Medicine Q&A 16


Coleman, R J & Powell, D (2004) Teasing Mares Educational programs of Kentucky Cooperative Extension University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension

Pycock, JF (1997) Self-Assessment Colour Review Equine Reproduction and Stud Medicine Manson

RVC staff (2009) Urogenital system RVC Intergrated BVetMed Course, Royal Veterinary College

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