Have you ever wondered about the difference between a male and female horse? Maybe you think of stallions as being dominant and mares as being meek or moody. In this post, we’ll explain the key terms related to horse gender, then we’ll enter the murkier territory of the characteristics associated with each gender.
Filly - A female horse under 4 years of age
Mare - A female horse that is 4 years or older
Broodmare - A female horse, often between 4 and 16 years old, that is kept for breeding
Dam - A horse’s mother
Colt - An uncastrated male horse under 4 years of age
Stallion - An uncastrated male horse that is 4 years or older
Stud - A high-quality stallion, often at least 3 years old, that is used for breeding
Sire - A horse’s father
Gelding - A male horse that has been castrated, or gelded. Gelding often occurs between 6 and 12 months, although it can happen into a horse’s teens.
Rig - A male horse that has been improperly castrated or has one or both testicles undescended
Note that there’s some variation in the ages associated with different terms. For example, mares must be 5 years or older for thoroughbred racing, not 4 years old.
GENDER AMONG WILD HORSES
In the wild, horses live in groups with one stallion and several mares. The mares focus on their survival and the survival of their foals. Mare leaders guide the herd to food, water, and safety.
The stallion protects the foals and mares from predators and other stallions. If there’s a predator, the stallion fights to protect the group. If there’s another stallion, the stallion tries to prove that he’s stronger, faster, and tougher.
GENDER AMONG DOMESTIC HORSES
We often apply human stereotypes about gender to horses. It’s hard to know how many of our ideas about the difference between stallions and mares are based on their group behaviour and other inherent characteristics, and how many are based on our assumptions.
Nonetheless, stallions are often described as being more muscular and aggressive towards other horses, while mares are often more docile, though they may be ill-tempered. Due to changes to hormone levels during the gelding process, geldings tend to be calmer than stallions.
In horse racing, both male and female jockeys and horses compete against each other. British flat racing includes about 63% male horses and 37% female horses, with approximately 67% of winners being male and 33% female.
Racehorses of both genders have similar abilities. Male horses have an average rating of 69 out of 140, while, for mares, the number is 64. One factor behind the different number of male and female horses may be that successful male racehorses are valuable as studs, siring several foals per year, while a mare can only have one foal per year since her gestation period lasts for 11 months.
Have you noticed any differences between male and female horses? Let us know in the comments!
Hello, My name is Shelby Gatti, and I am the owner of Shelby Ranch. I love being able to share my passion for animals with you and your family. At Shelby Ranch you can expect a ton of family adventure from horseback riding to mechanical bull riding & axe throwing.