Any of us women who cycle can relate- grouchy mood, back pain, discomfort just about everywhere. Yes we still have to go to work and we don’t get a pass just because we don’t feel good.
Your mare can feel plenty of back pain too, and the big difference between her and you is she isn’t human and can’t mask or stuff down her pain because society says to, and you’re sitting on her painful back.
Does she need time off? Maybe- maybe not. During this time of extra sensitivity I try to brush softer, take more time to warm up, do more stretching work, maybe work in hand. I try to make my requests easier, my legs and seat a little softer and lighter, my hands a little more forgiving.
When I first got my mare, she was terribly unhappy during her cycles. She couldn’t be touched, when on the shoulder with my hand, and she went after all the other horses. But she was a troubled horse in general – cycling just brought more of her worry to light. As she got more confidence and more loose in her neck and back, her eye during her cycles was soft, almost cuddly. Their behavior during their cycles is affected by a lot of things.
I think most of us would love to be extended these basic courtesies. Too often we get in the mind frame of “suck it up! I have to deal with it and nobody feels sorry for me!”
Don’t forget your mare is a horse, without the ability to reason, pretend, or hide. She isn’t stupid, but she has a horse brain, not a human brain.
A little generosity on the human’s part goes a long way to a horse. If she feels cared for and better in her body because of you, she’ll work harder for you even when she is in pain. Pretty simple.