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post #11 of 44 Old 01-03-2016, 08:16 AM
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Once Equus Magazine printed a study about pasturing mares and geldings. They said the only combination that really generally doesn't work is 2 geldings and 1 mare. I had a mare and a gelding pastured together who got along just fine. Of course, Equus published this article the month AFTER I bought a second gelding for my daughter and discovered it was a total mess. The two geldings fought constantly about who could graze near the mare, and when I wanted to go out in the pasture and get her to ride, they herded her away from me because they didn't want me to take her away from them. It was constant conflict until the mare died of old age. Then, sadly--because I do love mares, I only looked at geldings to replace my good mare. I have two mares and two geldings now and they get along fine.

One interesting thing that someone else said. The alpha horse is not the bully. The bully in my herd is the second from the top. The alpha horse only pins his ears or shakes a hind leg and the others all fall in line. The other funny dynamic is the alpha horse in my 4 horse herd was the bottom horse in the 4 horse herd of his previous owner. I don't know what horses think, of course, but it always made me think that when I bought him and took him home, he decided "Never again will I be bullied and chased. I have a fresh start and I'm going to make the most of it." And he soon took over being alpha over my old mare.
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post #12 of 44 Old 01-03-2016, 08:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Darrin View Post
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.
Maybe I should rephrase the terms alpha/bully. I don't know what you want to call them, but neither the mare or gelding pastured together get along with a herd. The gelding has to wear shoes because of feet problems and was injuring other horses repeatedly cause he likes to kick out and bite anyone that gets near him. The mare is the same. Even when riding, you cannot let other horses get close to her or she will kick out. The mare is a tough gal, so she was put in with the gelding, and he soon realized that she was not the one to mess with, so he keeps a fair distance and no one gets hurt.
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post #13 of 44 Old 01-03-2016, 11:13 AM
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Originally Posted by knightrider View Post
Once Equus Magazine printed a study about pasturing mares and geldings. They said the only combination that really generally doesn't work is 2 geldings and 1 mare. I had a mare and a gelding pastured together who got along just fine. Of course, Equus published this article the month AFTER I bought a second gelding for my daughter and discovered it was a total mess. The two geldings fought constantly about who could graze near the mare, and when I wanted to go out in the pasture and get her to ride, they herded her away from me because they didn't want me to take her away from them. It was constant conflict until the mare died of old age. Then, sadly--because I do love mares, I only looked at geldings to replace my good mare. I have two mares and two geldings now and they get along fine.
The current situation in my horse's herd is 3 geldings to one mare. The mare likes my gelding. She likes eating near him. The oldest gelding is possessive of the mare and is aggressive towards my gelding. The biggest gelding is, I think, the true alpha and tolerates my gelding pretty well, but when the mare runs towards my horse and the older gelding decides to give chase, the big gelding follows along... it's not a pleasant scene and my horse ends up getting cornered by the other three (even though the mare is just trying to get close to him). He has a nasty bite mark on his flank which I flushed out last night and disinfected.

Not saying mares and geldings can't get along, but ask the BO if his mares will tolerate a gelding or if there are alternate pasture arrangements in case it doesn't work. My horse has to be in a herd, at least in the winter (reduced grazing area because of snow) so we're stuck in this situation until spring when he will move onto my property permanently. If the BO has a separate paddock in case your horse can't be integrated in the herd with the mare, problem solved and you can get whatever gendered horse you want.
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post #14 of 44 Old 01-03-2016, 04:56 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Darrin View Post
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.
This is exactly the dynamic in the little herd of mares I was describing, and my friend (owner of the mares... will explain more below) has noted the exact same thing. The Alpha is a petite bay mare who is very even-tempered. Merely laying back an ear sends the others scooting. The "bully" is actually my friends ride, and is a real character (fun horse to be around, but needs a strong rider - which my friend is). She definitely feels the need for bravado, and has to always be proving herself.


So, I figured there would be no "black and white" answers here... My boarding situation is unique and requires a little explanation. I was trying to keep it short but that didn't happen so obviously feel free to skip this long post, but for anyone who cares, here's the back story:

I'm able to be on this grand adventure at my age because of my friend (met her about 5 years ago). She invited me to ride with her on a wonderful bombproof, push button, responsive, patient, you-name-it mare and the rest is history. I was completely bitten by the bug that I had managed to swat aside all my life. I love that horse, but she became permanently lame last fall. So - I was out of a horse to ride. I looked all over for some place to take lessons that was "middle-age-adult friendly" in order to fill the void, but really had no luck - finally stumbled onto a great small boarding facility with a young woman willing to give me beginner lessons... this was a year ago in December. It was a tad awkward for both of us at first since she was less than half my age lol!

Then my friend and I hatched the mad idea that the only real solution was for me to get my own horse and board it at her place (that's the group of mares... so it's not a barn and there isn't a BO per say). This is why I'm trying so very hard to head off any problems - I'd feel terrible if I cause undue work for her and unrest in her herd... I know there are no guarantees, but I'm attempting to hedge my bets.

We actually bought me a mare last March (other threads detail that adventure!). We tried to do everything right (older horse, great temperament, etc...) but for various reasons I won't go into here she wasn't a good fit for me. I stopped riding her last July (my friend continued to ride her quite a bit, and I enjoyed grooming and just being around her). I've become a little more competent as a rider, so my friend's neighbor was generous enough to let me start riding his fantastic QH (how I wish she were for sale... I love that horse! I used to long to ride her but even though she is really a dream to ride, she's a little intimidating... so it feels good to have advanced some in confidence and ability). Anyway, I wish my horse had worked out, but I learned so much from her! There's nothing like having your own, and I already miss it terribly.

To sell my mare I moved her to the barn where I had taken lessons, and consigned her with the girl I had learned from. She found her a great new home/better fit. It took 6 weeks though, and during that time I enjoyed working with my mare in their indoor arena - and in that controlled environment I worked up my confidence to ride her. The BO is fantastic and accommodating, fine with short term boarding - so after this experience, I've already decided that my new horse will spend a couple of months at this facility so I can work in a controlled setting prior to moving back to my friend's property, and I may consider wintering there in the future. At the barn, gender would be a non-issue as they have multiple paddocks with typically only 2 or 3 horses in each. They take great care to make sure pasture-mates are compatible. At my friend's place we have about 70 acres of pasture and woods to ride on, and it's great fun.

My friend just wants me to get a horse that's a good fit for me, and I in-turn want this horse to be a pleasure for her to add to her herd (my previous mare was a good fit with the group, but we both agreed she wasn't the best fit for me).

So, as I said, my situation is unique. I'm very fortunate to have these resources available, and I want to do everything I can to minimize drama. Thanks for reading if you actually made it through!
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post #15 of 44 Old 01-03-2016, 05:26 PM
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Gotcha, private barn and don't want to rock the boat. You sound like you get along well with mares so I would mainly concentrate my search on mares. Don't completely ignore gelding but be a lot more choosy with them and if you do happen to find one you like, talk it over carefully with your friend.

FYI, this is how I horse shop but being mainly a gelding person I concentrate on them but don't ignore the mares. Only purchased 1 mare but have lost out on a couple others as I took to long to decide on purchasing them.
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post #16 of 44 Old 01-04-2016, 05:49 AM
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Generally I'd go for a mare because like you said, she'll have an easier time in the field. Also gelding are very willing. A mare will teach you loads and maybe make you more than a 'confident beginner'. She will also challenge you to work for her affection. Believe me, a mare whinnying at you (mainly because of food but I take it anyway) is very rewarding as they generally don't just do it to anyone. Obviously though if you don't connect with the mare your looking at and do with the gelding, get the gelding :)
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post #17 of 44 Old 01-04-2016, 02:35 PM
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My personal experience is geldings are more easy to do, I have a gelding and 3 mares, the mares are the trouble makers at my stables. My wee chap Henry is the kindest pony I've ever had the pleasure of owning. But again that's just my experience I think every horse/pony is different.
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post #18 of 44 Old 01-04-2016, 03:14 PM
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What if you get the one you want most and if it doesn't work out at your friend's, go back to the barn that had the accommodating facilities? It seems to me the right horse for you is priority over the place to board because things can change down the road and today's boarding situation may not be available tomorrow.
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post #19 of 44 Old 01-04-2016, 03:21 PM
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I must be a rare breed, because I tend to steer away from the whole 'mares and geldings are equal' tidbit. A horse is a horse, of course, but males and females of every species are hardwired differently from the other.

Mares tend to be more opinionated and resistant that geldings. That is just my experience after owning two (and a single gelding) and riding several more of different breeds (morgan, QH, Saddlebred, arabian). It may have a lot to do with the fact that mares are the figureheads in horse society, and thus they are more inclined to prove their abilities as a potential leader. A lead mare essentially makes all of the decisions regarding her herd, so she is used to being in charge. I think many mares are born with the 'drive' to want to be a leader, which can (and often does) result in conflict with the rider/handler and can be minor or can become a larger problem. They are also influenced by hormones.

Geldings, on the other hand, don't have any hormonal or societal influence on a herd, and thus as less likely to have that resistance to them as they have likely been followers their whole lives. This means less pressure put on them, and they usually are glad to follow a leader around. The exception to the rule are those that were gelded late, after they had time to be a stallion (to breed, or help a mare protect a herd - and even then, a stallion's responsibilities differ from a mare's). Geldings do not exist in the wild.

That all being said, you will absolutely find horses that won't follow the mold, so to speak. Each horse is in individual with their own experiences which make up who they are. There are mares who would have no interest in being a leader, and there are geldings who are prone to being bossy - so it's important to evaluate each horse individually. But if you're looking for a 'general consensus', this has been mine.
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post #20 of 44 Old 01-04-2016, 03:41 PM
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I have a gelding because I like you was advised that they generally are easier going and more suited to beginner riders. Well, let's just say my guy is a DRAMA QUEEN. He is a naturally insecure horse, makes his opinions known and is somewhat of a crabapple with the others in the herd. He is in with two mares and two gelded donkeys and he is second in command in the herd.

I feel as though he'd rather turn back for home than conquer a challenging trail or obstacle. Sometimes you have to force him to take the hard way because his sense of self-preservation might shut down. He's the poster child of "If your friends jumped off a bridge, would you do it to?" Yes. Yes he would without a moment's hesitation. Don't get me wrong, I love my gelding but sometimes I wish he'd learn to use his thinking side more so than his reactive side of his brain.

My experience with observing mares and their attitudes is that they give that little extra for their riders. If there's an obstacle they might balk at first but will find a safer alternative around or over the obstacle. Mares from my experience require a little finesse in handling, it's easier to make them see the benefit of doing as you say versus forcing them to comply. I also think mares tend to have a lot more personality quirks which makes them good for some laughs. All in all, I personally prefer geldings because I know my personality would conflict with most mares but seeing a mare try her heart out for her rider is a sight to behold.
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