Mare, gelding or Mule - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 115 Old 01-25-2020, 04:38 PM Thread Starter
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Mare, gelding or Mule

Many HF members ride alone, because they prefer it or just because it is often hard to find anyone to ride with.

I need a horse I can ride alone, basically. Something trustworthy and sane. I don't mind riding with others, but most folks already have family groups they ride with. So it is hard.

I have generally preferred geldings (or stallions) my entire riding career. Mares seemed to get so moody and go into heat every time I was at a show. So some aren't too bad, others are witches...

But as I search, once again for a trail partner, I am faced with that question; do I get another gelding (who seem to get buddy sour easy) or do I go for a mare (and potentially loose days to ride) or do I branch out and try a mule?


What type of horse; mare, gelding, stallion, mule: Molly or John, do you think is better suited for riding alone and why?
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post #2 of 115 Old 01-25-2020, 05:56 PM
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It really has a lot to do with the individual horse. I've had a couple of mares that weren't particularly moody even in heat and geldings that would cop an attitude for no apparent reason. I do think you typically have to "negotiate" a bit more with a mare, but I have no problem with that. I sometimes say that if you can't remember the last time you gave your wife/girlfriend flowers, you should ride a gelding. Many years ago an old-timer who had worked on a big ranch in Texas told me that the best "using" horses were spayed mares but I've never had the opportunity to ride one.
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post #3 of 115 Old 01-25-2020, 06:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnitaAnne View Post
I need a horse I can ride alone, basically. Something trustworthy and sane. I don't mind riding with others, but most folks already have family groups they ride with. So it is hard.
I think that, rather than focussing on sex you need to focus on finding a horse who is confident & happy to go it alone. Or take a punt on a confident personality & put in the training to get them good going out with uou. I have no idea how mules might differ in that regard, have known many donks but absolutely no experience with mules. Would LOVE a mule. My eldest is theorising about getting our mare in foal to a mammoth jack & how we can tell my husband we don't know how she got pregnant - there must be feral donkeys in them thar hills...

Quote:
Mares seemed to get so moody and go into heat every time I was at a show. So some aren't too bad, others are witches...
I've personally(& for training) had quite a few mares over the decades and have not found them to be 'witches' - barring one, a friend's horse, who it was found had ovarian cysts. I've ridden alone on mares as well as geldings, & again, think it comes down to individual personality & training as to how good they are going out alone.

Quote:
do I get another gelding (who seem to get buddy sour easy) or do I go for a mare (and potentially loose days to ride)
I haven't found geldings to be innately more 'buddy sour' myself. Mine are all currently happy to go out alone, but one of my geldings - the boss man - gets extremely stroppy if we take any of his mates away & leave him at home - regardless who he's left with. Runs around sounding like a rabid monster turkey!
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post #4 of 115 Old 01-25-2020, 06:28 PM
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I have not been impressed with the mules i know. Everyone claims mules are better, but they seem just as complicated as horses. They seem to be sturdy and hardy creatures that maintain weight and body condition well. One is grumpy towards horses and may kick if you get close, the other is spooky- she's dumped her rider a couple times. I don't really see the difference between a mule and a horse, other than the ears and big head size.

I'm sure it all depends on breeding the right individuals.

I prefer mares. The biggest problem I've noticed with mares is the spook factor. They seem to get extra spooky before or the first day they are in season. It means sometimes you get a different horse. One of my mares is always the same and you can barely notice any difference in behavior. My other mare is like a completely different horse when in season.
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post #5 of 115 Old 01-25-2020, 06:41 PM
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I agree it's about the individual horse being confident going out alone, and on my last horse shopping experience that was something at the top of my list- including when I went to test ride, I was only working with sellers where I could take the horse out on the trail and have some of that time be where I would ride the horse away from its buddies. While I've had some nice trail rides on geldings, I've only ever owned mares. Have ridden a few hundred trail miles the last couple of years, the majority solo, all on my mares.

The buddy sour thing though, my oldest mare is desperately buddy sour (she's why I have 3 horses instead of two!). She doesn't even like my youngest mare, but she completely loses her mind when I take the younger one out to ride- even if I'm riding in the field across the street where she can literally see us. She runs the fence, calls incessantly, and coats herself in sweat. I can longer leave her in the field alone, e.g., taking her up to the barn last. Could I work with her on it? Probably? Would she improve? Maybe a little? But she's retired and nearly 26, and 99.9% of her time she isn't alone so it's something I work around. Weirdly, she was never like that when I was riding her a lot of miles alone, and I never once had a problem with her refusing to ride out. I think it's something that's gotten a lot worse since I moved the horses home; she had spent nearly 10 years in larger, busy boarding barns and I think she may have been a bit more comfortable in that kind of environment.


Edited to add: The buddy sour mare I mentioned, she does have notable heats and rather than the typical "moody, bitchy mare" attitude, I always found her to get sort of lethargic and quiet, clearly uncomfortable. I generally gave her a day or two off, or just took an easy walking ride, when she was quiet like that. She also (still) has the tendency to want to show heat signs whenever she meets a new horse. The other two mares I have here at home, couldn't tell you when either of them have ever been in heat as neither have ever shown any discernible signs.
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post #6 of 115 Old 01-25-2020, 09:29 PM
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I don't personally have experience with mules but know a trainer who does. Loved a Molly mule she got in to sell. Was very smart rode out alone or in a group.

Very laid back gentle was happy going slow. Very sure footed had to discuss things with her but always did what was asked.

I owned a mare who was a go anywhere horse rode alone no issue. But was opinionated and was annoying with the in heat ,every time you went riding in a group. I didn't keep her as I didn't care for a hussy mare ,always bugging the heck out of the geldings.

Cinder attacked her took huge hunks out of her hide an kicked the snot out of her. She wouldn't leave him alone was backing up to him, squirting and being a hussy. He got sick of it an beat the crap out of her.

Like my geldings neither are buddy sour never has been an issue. Can take either one out alone the one left behind is fine. I purposely leave one out in corral and put one in the barn.

Do this regularly with them switch out who goes in barn. I know there are people who like mares and they are fine. Just not what I want.

Main thing is take your time try out many horses. Make sure it is the horse you want.
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post #7 of 115 Old 01-25-2020, 09:54 PM
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I've had a lot of mares, but only 2 that were any different when in season. My current mare never acts any different. I've also had a lot of geldings and a couple stallions. None have been any better or worse going out alone as a type. Each is an individual with its own personality.

I just ignore the 'I wanna go home' antics and they eventually settle in for the ride.
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post #8 of 115 Old 01-26-2020, 01:08 AM Thread Starter
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I should have mentioned of course the main issue is that the horse will go out willingly alone.

I had a QH, used to literally shake if put on a trailer by himself. He was the gentlest, sweetest horse in the world, but could not ride alone. I had a little Shetland mare at the same time, and being of the pony breed, was supremely confident at all times she was the companion, so poor Skippy didn't have to ride alone

That Shetland had easy heats, the only time I knew she was in season is the one time she saw a Morgan stallion. She threw her head and tail up, and headed straight for him!! We all had to run interception to catch her


My TB/Appy mare, on the other hand, hated being around horses. Any horses. She was the oddest horse ever. Wicked heats! No riding during heats, she would just toss a rider and go home. Embarrassing! I couldn't let anyone else ride her.
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post #9 of 115 Old 01-26-2020, 01:14 AM Thread Starter
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I generally prefer geldings, as they seem at times easier to get along with. Less fussiness.

But, since I have a mare and a gelding, really could put either with them. I just wonder if a mare might be more confident alone.

There are IMO, differences in the way males and females of most species think and behave. For instance, IME, male rabbits are generally much more friendly towards people. Have had several that would love to sit with us, just like a small dog. The females, however, seem to be more prone to bite. Could be the frequent cycles, I don't know.

So that why I was asking if anyone noticed this type of thing with horses.
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post #10 of 115 Old 01-26-2020, 02:42 AM
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My geldings have always been more buddy sour than my mares. Not that they wouldn't go out alone but I could just tell they were more nervous about being away from the herd. Even having a stallion on the property about the only time the mares acted any different was their first cycle in the spring. They'd drive Thunder crazy because they'd want to hang out by his gate and it seemed they all came in at the same time but still knew they had to behave while being handled. I have never owned nor even ridden a mule but have ridden with a bunch and quite frankly have never seen why their owners insist they are so much better than a horse. Maybe if I spent more time around one I'd understand.
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