“A good gelding will take you to hell so you can ride the devil’s stud home. A good mare will take you to hell and back with the devil’s stud in tow.” No idea who to credit that quote to, but it rings true. I’m a mare person. I love my geldings, but I love, love, love my mares. In fact if my geldings weren’t so flashy and pretty, (forget that I never get rid of horses because I’m worried they’ll end up in bad situations) I would only ride and work with mares for the rest of my life. I could probably be a stallion person as well, but I don’t have the fencing to contain them. I also don’t want to be concerned with every other person’s horse drama in addition to my own when I’m at a show. My 300 lb stud pony Beau, even though he is secretly my heart horse, has taught me that stallions come with a lot of extra hassle. There is just something lacking once you take reproductive capabilities away from a horse.
Now if you made it this far, have any experience with horses, and you fall into the “gelding person” category, you are probably thinking “Yeah! All of the bad qualities are lacking in geldings.” That’s fine. It’s a common sentiment, and you can just scroll on by with your uncomplicated horse needs. But mares have always taken care of me. That isn’t to say that they don’t sometimes have personality quirks, but when I doing something that requires complete faith in my mount, I go straight for the mares. Mares think for themselves. They make their own decisions, and if you disagree with their decision you can’t just force them to go your way. You must convince them.
On the flip side, if I think there is even a chance I’m about to do something sketchy, or I’m not completely confident what the best option will be, I want a horse that can handle the indecision. I want a horse that will say, you know what let me take it from here. I’ve never had a gelding that wasn’t always looking for some sort of guidance. My mares go on with life until I convince them that my idea is better. If I can’t convince them, chances are my idea wasn’t that superb to begin with anyway. I’ve put my faith in my little pony Moonshine to not only bring me, but also Offspring and a cart safely through an unknown field in the middle of the night with zero visibility. I just kept her moving in the general direction we needed to go, but the path was completely hers to choose. In reality her navigation skills were better than mine, and she didn’t need my assistance to maintain the general direction to get us back to the trailer safely.
My mare Odessa is the bravest horse I’ve ever ridden. Not to say she isn’t occasionally startled or spooked by something, but she holds her ground, and when pointed at an obstacle will go over or through with no hesitation. She has not once refused a jump, stadium or cross-country, or obstacle of any kind. Even when our approach was less than stellar, or she wasn’t exactly tuned in to what I had her headed for, when she arrives she does not dirty stop or back off. She gives it her all. I’ve not in 40 years of working with/riding horses had a single gelding with that kind of confidence.
With the exception of my stallion, Beau, all of my driving ponies so far are mares. Every single one is brave to a fault, and even the sensitive ones, the ones with a little more anxiety about life in general have delivered in the tough situations. I have full size geldings that freak out over things that pose less threat to them (ahem they’re about 700 lbs larger) that my 300 lb girls don’t even acknowledge. Some of that may be due to that fact that they are ponies and when you originate from Satan, secure in the knowledge you have the devil’s protection at your back everything else is less terrifying. However, the fact that they’re all mares has to be more than coincidence.
Finally, as much fun as I poke at my mares for their moods and their mare face, I love them. They’re expressive in a way none of my boys have ever been. When they are annoyed, they are not afraid to show it. Odessa has no qualms about firing off a few good bucks when the situation is not to her liking. For you bleeding hearts out there, it isn’t a pain reaction she’s been thoroughly vetted. Its more of I’m disgruntled so here are a few hops to remind you who you are dealing with. She then returns to being completely delightful. The many expressions of mares 99% of them with ears flattened against their head tell me more about how my horse is feeling than the goofy, perky or floppy ear expressions my geldings walk around with. The right stare from my 30 in pony Tater Tot is enough to put Brent’s 15.1 hh mustang gelding in his place every time, not to mention hilarious to watch.
If you are a person that wants your mount/driver to follow instruction blindly without question geldings are for you. However, if you’re looking for more out of the relationship, and can swallow your ego enough to admit that sometimes the horse knows a lot more than you, you may be more of a mare person too.