Mares vs. Geldings: A Light Hearted Look at the Battle of the Sexes.


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Mares vs. Geldings: A Light Hearted Look at the Battle of the Sexes.

Morgan MurphyMares vs. Geldings: A Light Hearted Look at the Battle of the Sexes.

Nothing gets the conversation going like the subject of Mares vs. Geldings. To non-horse people, the fact that there are gender issues within the equine breed must seem absurd. However, when you're dealing with a creature who, should it decide to get fussy, could do you a great deal of harm, it's important to be aware of these issues. Now, bear in mind, Geldings are male horses that have already been castrated. So, the hormones that can make a male horse somewhat unpredictable have been removed, ideally before the horse went through puberty. Female horses can be hormonally controlled with drugs such as Depo-Provera, (it prevents them from experiencing "estrus," which helps to keep them subdued,) but they are rarely submitted to surgery. Even accounting for what can be done to subdue hormonally related behavior issues, Mares and Geldings tend to have fairly different personalities. So, in what major, gender-specific ways do male and female horses differ?

Mares are often more temperamental than geldings!*

First, let's make sure you know what distinguishes Mares from Geldings, Fillies from Colts. A Mare is a fully grown female horse over the age of three. Until she's three years of age, she is deemed a Filly (you may also hear her referred to as a yearling till she's one year old,) whereas an adult male who has been castrated is known as a Gelding. Young male horses, castrated or not, are called Colts. Male horses that are allowed to grow to maturity without castration are called Stallions. In this article we will mainly focus on Mares and Geldings: Stallions should only be handled by professionals and extremely experienced horse people over 18 years of age.

Moody Mares

If you're considering breeding and raising horses, you're going to need to find the right Mares. Natural Mare behavior is strongly influenced by their estrus cycle, which on average, occurs from mid spring through late summer. Reproduction shuts down naturally during months when food supplies tend to be in much shorter supply. When Mares are fertile, they need to be handled with an additional emphasis on safety. During this period, they can become unusually animated, overly flirtatious and/or hostile.


However, Mares can also be superior equine companions. They can be very nurturing and often grow very attached to their owners, much as they would with a foal. Most Mares are bright, highly trainable and responsive, but, they can be a bit more of a character than a Gelding. A popular saying among horse people is, "tell a Gelding but ask a Mare." You may want to use more partner-style training methods when dealing with an especially assertive Mare.

Great Geldings

If you've ever had a Gelding, you probably already know how consistent their moods tend to be. There is simply no breeding agenda affecting their outlook, (Unless they were castrated late, which can leave them more territorial and Stallion like. When Mares are in season, if they are not on Depo-Provera, they can become flirty and more of a hand-full. Geldings are easy to work with, more trainable, understanding, tolerable and responsive. Some say that they are not as empathic as mares and as such it can take longer to build a very solid bond between horse and owner.

It is important to remember that these are generalisations: every horse has his or her own idiosyncrasies. Ultimately, most horses can become well trained, loving companions.

*Image courtesy of Bigstock Images

  • Morgan this is just great! Accurate and so funny, I always been a mare lover, people call me crazy but I just think they have bags more  character