Monday, November 17, 2008

The Girls . . .

by Kit Ehrman

As I reflect on the last two horses that I had the privilege of owning, my post touches on an earlier subject: geldings versus mares.

My first horses were geldings, the last two mares. When I went looking for my third horse, I was well aware of the “rumor” that mares were annoyingly temperamental, but I decided that I’d give them a try. If my future mare was injured and could no longer be ridden, at least I’d have the option of breeding her.

I must admit, now that I’m better educated on the issues of horse slaughter and equine overproduction, I would not have that mindset today if I were looking for a horse. Breeding a horse is a huge responsibility. You need to be certain that there’s a high demand for the resultant offspring, and you need to be willing and able to socialize and train the colt so that he grows up to be a desirable mount or the horse runs the risk of being unwanted and unsalable.

Okay, I can see I’m all over the place topic-wise tonight, but after researching for my next book, the whole, ugly slaughter issue is on my mind. As I look out my window, at my neighbor’s pasture, I’m reminded of the importance of breeding wisely. They have seven “miniature” horses—a concept I have a hard time understanding--and an unknown (to me) number of horses, and they are rarely handled. I never see a vet’s truck and can’t remember the last time I saw a farrier visit the farm. But they had a miniature stud, and for that very reason, they felt compelled to breed their stock. But where will those unschooled and poorly cared for animals end up if they’re sold? They’d have to be extremely lucky not to find themselves in an auctioneer’s lot.

So, if you’re going to breed your mare, please make sure that she’s a quality, highly-sought after animal, and be prepared to put a lot of time and effort into the foal.

Okay, off my soapbox and on to my lovely mares. My first one was a delicate, dark bay thoroughbred who’d raced but was none too fast. She was a little grumpy and didn’t much care for being groomed, but I had some wonderful rides on her. When she was in the mood, she was like driving a Ferrari. Soft mouth, round back, nice easy gait. I swear, I just had to “think” the move, and she’d do it. When she was relaxed like that, she was a dream to ride. Other days, she’d swish her tail and grind her teeth and generally be a pain in the ass to ride.

So, Missy supported the temperamental myth, all right, but I didn’t care. She was special to me. I know some friends couldn’t see what I “saw” in her, but that was okay. Next time, I’ll tell you about my Appendix Quarter horse mare.

Happy reading and riding,


mrscravitz said...

You do bring up a good question. Geldings VS Mares. I have a mare. Actually two now. But Sissy, well there is just something about her. I don't know if it is because she is my FIRST, or if it is that she is fluid beauty when she moves. Or it could be that she just lets me hug and pet her all over. Maybe it is because she has a personality that won't quit. She has her quirks though. Comes into heat, seems like, every two weeks. She is young, 6 years old. But we have worked hard the past three years. Me, not knowing a thing about horses, and Cramming a life of information into my noggin. She she has a smell that no other horse has. She smells so good! I love to hug her neck, and she allows me to give her kisses on her nuzzle. She makes my heart race and the tears flow. But I don't feel comfortable riding her! Isn't that just so sad! LOL She is a big horse. 16+ hands. It is not her fault, it is mine. I need more riding lessons, and this I plan to work on this coming summer. She needs more experience as I do.

Yes Geldings seem to be more even tempered, but Mares, well they have attitude! HAHA

Shanster said...

I really like geldings. My trainer prefers mares. She thinks they have more heart - give you more.

When my gelding retired, I found a mare that fit my riding needs perfectly - she vetted - she was priced to sell and I couldn't say no.

She has taught me A LOT! I really had no idea mares could be so bossy and opinionated! I learned a lot about setting boundaries cuz she pushed them, my gelding never did.

BUT she's made me a better horseperson. I need to ride her with finesse and more tact. She is much less forgiving than my gelding was. She works for me - she works really well. I can't say if it's more than what my gelding gave me tho?

I am extremely, extremely lucky that I have no idea when she cycles other than her transitional heat in spring - even then she is just stiff backed and like riding a 2x4 - once a year. It still doesn't come out at me in her personality or behavior. I have yet to experience the squealing, peeing, ear pinned, kicking mare in heat! LUCKY me! :)

Leslie said...

I have geldings but have had experience with mares. At the stable where I used to work we had 10 and 4 geldings so I've seen the wide range or personalities from mares.

Most of the mares, fit into the moody label. My favorite, however, did not. She was a gem!

I think it depends on the horse personality. I actually have a moody gelding! He gets moody on rainy yucky days. He gets moody if he hasn't gotten enough attention from me. I think his mom must have been a boss mare because he acts like a boss mare sometimes!

My other gelding is just the opposite and the way most geldings are viewed. Kind, willing, always wanting to please and tries to do what you ask.

I believe it comes down to personality just as much as mare vs. gelding.

Anonymous said...

I have always been a gelding fan--all of my current riding horses are geldings. But I have to admit, I have one gelding who acts like a mare (or should I say, a cranky mare). He kicks the bars of his corral and squeals at other horses just like those obnoxious females I was trying to avoid. But he isn't particularly moody, so at least I've escaped that. One good thing about geldings, you aren't tempted to breed them....and the last thing I need is more horses(!)

HorsesAndTurbos said...
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HorsesAndTurbos said...

My very first horse was a gelding...and he was hot, yet even tempered. He was "aged", and loved me to groom him. We did wild and crazy things like chase herds of deer, run into rivers to swim. Whatever I asked, he did.

Flash forward many next first horse after kids is a now 8 year old hormonal, crazy mare...who I love to death. We have a different bond...she'll just come and hang with me an beg for scritches. She is nutty when in heat...she was in full blown heat when I had the chiropractor out and every time he adjusted her, she squealed (much to everyone's laughter, once we realized she wasn't squealing in pain!). When I ask her for something, she checks to see if she really wants to do it, then checks again to be sure I really want to do it, then does it. Not the blind obedience of my first gelding. I can relate to her a lot :)

My border gelding (19 years) has a sense of humor that is just starting to show...he is big, and is a gate opener...and he tests by pushing. We've already had to catch him twice when we forgot to chain the pasture gate shut. I also have his stall locked with a clip...and he likes to open the clip, drop it to the ground, and look innocent. This is when he is done eating and wants to go out and only if my back is to him. If I continue to ignore him, then he'll let himself out. He's starting to unwind and show his real personality.

The mini-gelding is totally food oriented...he'll let you play with him, but where is the food?


Joy said...

Mares are so interesting! My first horse was a very moody mare. God how I loved her. I've always gotten along well with mares in general and still do, but I have to admit, now that I have a gelding, I love geldings!

Kit Ehrman said...

Thanks everyone for some lovely accounts of our bonds with mares!!!!