Mare or Gelding - - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 44 Old 01-02-2016, 12:13 PM Thread Starter
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Mare or Gelding -

I know this is often discussed, and I know opinions vary greatly - but I'm weighing options for my specific circumstances. I've posted several times lately as I'm looking at different horses, so won't give all the background. Basically, I'm 52... probably would be classified advanced beginner (my immediate goal is to reach "confident beginner" status lol). I have a good support system, mentors, and a great boarding arrangement. We do simple trail and pasture riding.

The dilemma:
I'm often advised by very experienced riders to get a gelding because they are generally easier to get along with (if you get the right one of course). My horse will be pastured with mares, though, and I've also been advised by people whose opinion I greatly respect not to put a gelding in with mares (that it's inviting trouble). The existing herd is 2 geriatric mares, and 2 younger mares (7 and 9). The 7 year old is especially dominant and animated, and always gives underlings grief.

So, opinions? What trumps? I'm currently looking at a mare and at a gelding - (they are very different animals and I'm not sure either is the right choice), but hypothetically if all things were equal - which would you choose? Thanks
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post #2 of 44 Old 01-02-2016, 12:30 PM
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All things being equal, I'd go with the horse I felt the best connection with, regardless of gender.

I am mostly a gelding person. I prefer the ease of geldings and that there's usually relatively little drama (not always the case, but as a general rule, it is). A stud can't get out and accidentally impregnate your gelding. And geldings tend to be less opinionated (not true for all of them, but as a general rule).

That being said, there are two mares who I have adored and clicked with and would give my right foot to own. One is my best friend's 12yo QH mare. Yes, she has her issues (she's a mouthy little cuss), but her gentleness under saddle far outweighs any of them. The other is a mare I rode at the Girl Scout horse camp I worked at. Her name was Paleface and she was dumber than a box of rocks, but you could not have asked for a steadier, more willing partner on the trail.

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post #3 of 44 Old 01-02-2016, 01:00 PM
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I have had mares work through their "time of the month" as if it wasn't happening, and seen others that can be quite difficult. In general, I would say geldings have a better edge on being more suitable for a beginner as mares can vary.

For herd dynamics when turned out, I think it again depends on the individuals. I had two geldings turned out with two and sometime three mares and never had a issue. I have also seen major problems with mixed turnout, and individuals of either sex creating a problem when turned out with their own kind.

If the gelding you are considering has been turned out and is good with mares, it could work and eliminates the competition with another gelding. However, I would be more inclined to add another mare to an established group of mares as long as they are introduced properly.
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post #4 of 44 Old 01-02-2016, 01:09 PM
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if you only have mares, then maybe best to get another mare. just worry about the personality of the horse, over the gender.
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post #5 of 44 Old 01-02-2016, 08:55 PM
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I think you should ask the barn owners how their mares react to geldings. Everyone is right when they say you should choose a horse that works for you, regardless of gender, but as someone whose horse is being chased and shunned by the rest of the herd, I can tell you it's no fun. Also, at the barn we used to board, the BO's horses were all mares (though there were a couple of boarders who had geldings). Our horse is a gelding and the BO wouldn't put him in with his mares, or even near them. As a result, he was confined to a small, muddy paddock. Which is why we moved.

If you know for sure that you're going to remain at this barn, you might want to just check with the BO to see if it's better to get one or the other for the sake of keeping the peace.
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post #6 of 44 Old 01-02-2016, 09:07 PM
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I used to be firmly TEAM GELDING. Wouldn't even consider sale ads for mares from my experience riding on a ranch as a teen and the mares all being stubborn, attitude filled pain in the butts! Lol.

However...I ended up leasing a mare through recommendation of my trainer and she was a sure and steady mount. You could trust her with anyone on her back. And now, my current (first) horse is a mare and I wouldn't trade her for the world. She is the kindest, most willing horse I've ever had the pleasure of riding and I myself am what you could call an advanced beginner. If I had kept my horse buying search limited to geldings only, I would've missed out on the horse of my dreams.

With that said, my barn WILL NOT put a gelding in the mare pasture or vice versa. We do have one mare and one gelding pastured together alone, and it's only because they are both alphas and bullies and cannot be integrated with the regular herds. I would talk to your BO and see which direction is going to viable with your boarding arrangements.
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post #7 of 44 Old 01-02-2016, 10:03 PM
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If you're barn wont mix horses and there's no gelding pasture that makes your decision for you. But, horses can and do mix. Geldings will mix in with mares and mares will mix in with geldings. They will have to figure out the pecking order and their might be some bite and kick marks on them but they'll figure it out over the space of several days.

FYI, there are bullies but they are generally indiscriminate on the sex they'll bully. I read an interesting article (don't remember where) that said bullies are actually betas trying to be an alpha, true alphas don't have to bully. This fits in with what I've observed through the years, the alpha everyone respects (including the bully) usually doesn't have to do more than threaten with ears/feet, they only go more extreme with those that are slow learners.
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post #8 of 44 Old 01-02-2016, 10:38 PM
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Both of our horses are geldings and one of them lives with four mares (poor guy). They get along fine. He's second in the pecking order.

I too have heard that geldings, as a whole, are easier to deal with, but there are going to be geldings that are a real pain in the butt just like there are going to be super fabulous mares that are exceptions to the rule. I would not base my decision on it. I ride a mare at our lesson barn that is truly amazing and very calm.

Of course, if you are boarding at the place w/ mares, you probably have to get a mare!
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post #9 of 44 Old 01-03-2016, 04:52 AM
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If you want the the gelding and the barn owners are fine with having a gelding with the mares, then maybe you could do a trial period before buying to see if they get along?
There are a few geldings that will mount mares, so that can be a concern. But some mares also bully docile geldings.
At my barn there is one gelding who is out alone because he bullies everyone. There is a field with a gelding alone because he gets bullied BY everyone. There's another field with three mares, a field with three geldings, and a field with two geldings and a two mares. I've had my mares out with all combinations of mares and geldings. Generally speaking, if your horse tends to be at the top or bottom of the herd, he or she will tend to stay there regardless of the gender of horses turned out with.
Over the years, I've seen the most bullying with mares together with mares. It's a lot more rare to have issues with geldings and mares together. I've seen geldings run a herd with more mares, and I've seen mares run a herd with more geldings. The best results come from not worrying about gender and just putting horses together that get along.
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post #10 of 44 Old 01-03-2016, 05:25 AM
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Unless you have a particular preference then go with the horse that suits you best. Ticks all your boxes. Some mares can be really tetchy when in season but usually they are no more difficult to ride, they're just more inclined to take a chunk out of another horse if it comes too close, they are all a bit different of course. One mare I knew used to be unbeatable in the show ring when she was close to being in season!!

Often most people wouldn't know when your mare was in season when she is being ridden, because she has a job to do. Just as when someone rides their stallion he isn't always rushing round trying to mate every mare in sight, he will have particular gear when expected to be a stud, and separate gear for when he is ridden (including different halter), so he associates the gear with a different mindset.

I have never known anyone have a problem putting mares and geldings together. Occasionally you will get an extremely timid, or extreme bully that needs separating, IME usually that is because of previous treatment in that horses life. Personally, I like mares.

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