Is it easier to keep horses of the same sex? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 30 Old 05-14-2015, 01:09 PM Thread Starter
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Is it easier to keep horses of the same sex?

I wasn't sure where to put this thread. I decided to place it on the "New to Horses" section because it seems like a question a lot of folks new to horses might ask.

I've heard before that it is easier to keep 2-3 horses who are all geldings or all mares than it is to have a mix. I was told they tend to get less herd bound that way, although you always have that issue with 2-3 horses kept by least somewhat.

I've got 2 geldings and a mare. Either gelding will go out fine with the mare, but they don't tend to go out well together. That may be because the mare (Mia) is the dominant horse. The two geldings do tend to compete for her attention, although she seems largely oblivious to their actions...or she views them with a certain disdain. Being a guy myself, I know how they feel...

Mia is by nature a rather intense horse. She's much calmer than she used to be but I've concluded it is her nature to be more high strung than most. An experienced rider (our farrier) has asked if I would like to trade him for his gelding. The gelding has had a lot of trail miles put on him. He's not a dead-head (I'm told) but also not "high maintenance". The farrier really likes Mia, in part because she is high maintenance. He's also about 30-35 years younger than I am and can't remember learning to ride, while I started at 50.

In a generic sense: Is it easier to keep 2-3 horses who are all geldings or all mares than to have a mix? My decision doesn't hinge on it, but I'd like to know what others have experienced.

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post #2 of 30 Old 05-14-2015, 01:39 PM
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I honestly think it depends more on the individual horses, rather than the genders.

My best friend has two mares and a gelding. The gelding is an OTTB who is bat-crap crazy (wish I was joking) and VERY high-strung. One of the mares is a QH who is laid-back and lazy. The other mare is an arab/paint cross who is still young (3yo).

The gelding was gelded late (5yo) and is what I always grew up knowing as "proud cut." He has some very stallion-like tendancies and can be an absolute jerk to the mares, biting, kicking and striking at them very aggressively. For that reason, he is NOT ever turned out with them. If one of the mares gets out of his sight, he has a complete meltdown, even if they are just taken into the barn (enclosed mare motel) and he's left in the arena 30ft away.

The QH mare couldn't care less about being away from either the gelding or the other mare. She will willingly go out on a trail ride by herself and is not barn or herd sour. She is not a dominant mare, really.

The 3yo mare is very dominant. She will get into biting matches over the fence when she is in her stall and the gelding is turned out in the arena. She will also kick the other mare when they are turned out together and is just a sassy little squirt. She is VERY herd bound and will get very antsy if she can't see either the other mare or gelding (doesn't have to be both, just one or the other). She had a rough start to life, though, so I think that may have something to do with it.

To give you an idea, the gelding was 8 when my best friend got the QH mare who was 3 at the time and they have been together ever since (the gelding just turned 17 and the mare just turned 12). She has only had the 3yo arab/paint mare for a year and a half, about.

OTOH, my gelding was always out with a herd of other geldings, no mares, when he was turned out. There were a couple of times that my friend turned her arab mare out with my gelding, her arab gelding and our other friend's arab gelding, but he couldn't have cared less about Cassie, who was an extremely dominant mare. His only neighbor at the old barn was a gelding. He is not herd bound at all. He is fine alone or in a group of geldings. He trail rides in a group just fine, mares or geldings. I haven't ridden him on the trail alone, but I have taken him on trail walks alone (before he was broke) and he was absolutely fine. He is, however, about as laid-back as they come, by nature.
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post #3 of 30 Old 05-14-2015, 01:39 PM
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Hmm... So while I have never owned more than one horse at a time, I have boarded at different barns with different segregation rules so thought I would share my experiences.

My one mare was kept in a mixed pasture for several years. She was very herd bound, and always had a "boyfriend" that she would hang out with. She was harder to catch when she was with him, and would always try to get back to him. This progressively got worse. I ended up selling this mare, and she is now no longer herd bound at a farm where she is the only horse (obviously).

My current mare is with mares only. Before I bought her, she was being penned with a young stud colt. In these days, she was much harder to catch; you had to chase her for several minutes and was a real bag to catch general. Now in a herd of 15+ mares, she is easy to catch.

Now, whether those things are because of a change of ownership/handling or from being separated from the opposite sex, I can't say. What I do know, is that my mare is directly next to a pen of geldings and she will hang around the fence line when in heat. Overall, she has to be with the mares, but still has "access" to the geldings.

I think this is more related to the personality of the horse, for sure. Some horses who are more "horse friendly" might get easily attached and herd bound. My mare is a very independent, I-don't-need-anyone type of a horse.
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post #4 of 30 Old 05-14-2015, 01:58 PM
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I also think it depends on the individual horse because I've kept mares and geldings together with no trouble at all but I've has geldings that were probably 'proud cut' that some mares played up too appallingly - though some ignored them altogether.
Some horses just crave company or maybe its the need for a leader to make them feel secure and will focus on one particular horse for that regardless of its sex and some horses couldn't care less
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post #5 of 30 Old 05-14-2015, 02:05 PM Thread Starter
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post #6 of 30 Old 05-14-2015, 02:19 PM
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I agree with Jaydee and Drafty, depends on the horses.

Though, as an observation from the experience of having an all gelding herd, the very air of the pasture does seem to change when there are mares about.

“You spend your whole life with horses and just about the time you think you have them figured out, a horse comes along that tells you otherwise.” –quote from my very wizened trainer

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post #7 of 30 Old 05-14-2015, 02:29 PM
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We've always kept mixed herds (over 30 years) and never had an issue. Oddly enough the only issue we have at the moment is a very controlling mare in with other mares - so they are all different and it just depends upon the mix.
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post #8 of 30 Old 05-14-2015, 09:55 PM
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It really depends on the personality of the horse. I had Hombre gelded at the age of 8 after my mare was checked in foal. He ended up being an awesome babysitter for his foal at weaning time, and to his grand and great granddaughter too. I never had any issues with him and any of my mares. They all got along so well that I was able to turn him out with mare and foal within a few days of foaling. But then, they were all raised with him.
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post #9 of 30 Old 05-14-2015, 10:35 PM
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I agree with the others that it really depends on the individuals and I would say that the individuals probably behave the way they do according to how they were raised. My BO says (among a lot of other things) that you NEVER put mares and geldings together. I personally never had a problem with it.
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post #10 of 30 Old 05-14-2015, 11:49 PM
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I have 3 different herds of horses with all of them being mixed. The only problem horse I have is Thunder our once breeding stallion now gelded. He does not do well with other geldings. He is not particularly mean in wanting to fight but he wants to herd them around like he does the mares and they just don't get it so he bites them to make them mind and he's put some ugly bite marks on them. I finally divided him off with his dam and another mare to keep the peace. Each is fine being the one taken out but his dam acts like you're taking her foal away from her when you take him out and leave her behind even though they were separated for 13 years. She's fine if you take her out and leave him behind though. Weird, huh?

The other herd is 4 geldings and a mare. None of them are really herd sour.

The minis are 1 gelding & 2 mares and both the mares are very herd sour. They actually don't like changes of any kind (like being put in a different lot) even when they are all 3 together.

So my experience is the same as most of the other posters. It's more the individual horse than it is anything else.

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