There’s only so much room in each of our barns (and pocketbooks!), and many of us have to choose our horses wisely. We seek a dependable and willing riding partner, and the common mindset is to lean toward good ol’ reliable geldings. They sport strong hips, solid minds and are ready to be told what to do.
But today, I’m here to promote the fairer gender of equines. On this never-ending road of learning and horsemanship that I’m trotting down, I’ve realized that a good mare is as wonderful and special as any gelding could ever be.
I know, there are some stigmas attached to mares. Yes, the stereotypical female horse can be moody. Her attitude may be volatile from day to day, and she is quick to remind you when her boundaries have been crossed. She advocates that she be treated with a certain amount of respect, time and understanding. Mares may challenge our perception of timing and feel (and often rock our fragile egos), but in doing so they can elevate our abilities as horsemen and create unique opportunities and learning situations.
Naturally, not all geldings are solid, predictable and steady, and not all mares are sour, squealing and moody. They do not need to be treated with kid gloves or handled differently simply because they are female. Mares can co-exist with geldings. They can learn to mind their manners and behave when loaded on a trailer full of other horses. Yes, there might be wavering attitude changes, but the tail-swishing drama that some mares exhibit can be managed and toned down in most cases.
In the performance pen, mares are valuable and cherished. A money-earning mare will have more appeal and be a sounder financial investment than a gelding of the same stature, merely because she has the ability to reproduce. The great mares often go on to produce foals with talent and ability. Some trainers prefer a string of mares, claiming that they tend to carry an extra dose of fire in their hearts and grit in tough situations. In fact, there are cowboys, competitors and horsemen in all facets of the equine world that sing the praises of a special mare in their lives. (Did I mention that my favourite using horse just so happens to be one?)
Many people will always prefer geldings, and I’ll admit, I used to be an unwavering gelding proponent. The appeal of steady, predictable geldings is understandable. But for those of us lucky enough to have a good mare, we have found a real partner. The good mares I have known possess big hearts, busy minds and beautiful, feminine features.
Don’t get me wrong; I’ll always enjoy and appreciate a nice gelding. But there will always be room in my barn for a good mare.