Gelding or Mare: Which Makes a Better Mount?

Posted by Allie Layos

In the age-old debate of gelding versus mare, there may not be a clear winner.

For as long as there have been equestrians, they have argued over which made the better mount: geldings or mares.

Stallions, in all their lazy majesty, are usually excluded from the debate. They're beautiful, sure, but as an everyday riding horse, they are generally too high maintenance.

Between geldings and mares, however, it's really a toss up. Here are some of the pros and cons of each.

Geldings

Geldings are like that annoyingly affable guy in high school that you wanted to hate but just couldn't. Reliable, willing, and generally forgiving of mistakes, they're just an all-around good guy.

They don't mind being ordered around, and if they act up, a raised voice or swift correction is usually all it takes for them to become immediately sorry and apologetic.

Because geldings like pretty much everyone, they make excellent lesson horses and can make great partners for almost all riders. However, this incredibly agreeable nature may take away some of the sense of accomplishment or excitement that comes with winning over a touchier horse, such as a mare.

Some people also believe that geldings lack the fire that is often seen in mares and stallions.

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Mares

Mares are temperamental, unpredictable, and far less likely to tolerate mistakes. You can't order a mare around, and you can't fight with her. To ride a mare well means becoming an expert negotiator and just a little bit dishonest; the key is to make the mare think the things you want her to do were actually her own idea.

But don't think that means mares can't make great riding horses. In fact, some people argue they can make the best partners. They are extremely loyal; once you've won a mare over, she will go to great lengths for your partnership. And channeling the fiery personality of a mare leads to brilliant performances. The key is finding the right mare.

Simply put, there aren't a lot of highs and lows with a gelding. You have the horse you have (a good one), and he'll probably be the same tomorrow. Mares have more highs and lows, but though their lows may be lower, some believe their highs are also higher.

So who wins in the gelding versus mare debate? It comes down to just one vote: your own.

Gelding or Mare: Which Makes a Better Mount?