What Is A Gelding, Mare Or Stallion?

Last Updated on October 12, 2021 by Cristina

When it comes to horse terminology, the names for genders can be confusing! Have you ever wondered what is a gelding, mare, or stallion? Many horse owners and riders prefer mares or geldings over one another, but what is the reason for this?

The interesting fact about geldings, stallions, and mares is that each gender has unique personality traits and behaviors, and often excels at different equestrian events.

Let’s find out what is a gelding, mare, and stallion, and find out what makes horse genders so different!

What Is A Mare?

A mare is the name given to a female horse aged four years and older.

Mares are the gender of horse that can become pregnant and raise young. This is made possible because they have reproductive organs, allowing them to carry a foal inside their abdomen, give birth, and rear the foal using milk.

What Is A Mare

Female horses are known by different names throughout their lifetime. This depends on their age and reproductive status:

  • Foal – a male or female horse aged one year or less
  • Yearling – a male or female horse aged between one and two years
  • Filly – a female horse aged under four years
  • Mare – a female horse aged four years or older
  • Dam – a mare that has given birth to a foal

There is no name for a neutered female horse because they are very rare. Neutering a mare is a very difficult procedure which poses a high risk to the horse. For this reason, mares are not routinely neutered.

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What Is A Stallion?

Stallions are male horses, the gender that can father a foal. They are able to impregnate a mare with spermatozoa during the mating process, causing her to become pregnant.

In herds of wild horses, the stallion would protect the herd and keep the females and foals safe. He would fight with other stallions to earn the right to mate with his mares.

Male horses are known by different names throughout their lifetime. This depends on their age and reproductive status:

  • Foal – a male or female horse aged one year or less
  • Yearling – a male or female horse aged between one and two years
  • Colt – a male horse aged under four years
  • Stallion – an unneutered male horse aged four years or older
  • Rig – a male horse who has been improperly castrated
  • Sire – the father of a foal

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What Is A Gelding?

Stallions can be very lively, unpredictable, and difficult to handle. They are not generally used for everyday riding activities, and stallions are normally only kept by equine stud farms.

So, where do geldings fit into all this? A name gelding is given to a stallion that has been neutered. To do this, a surgical procedure is carried out to remove the testes from the stallion. This removes the male horse’s desire to mate with mares, and he becomes a much more manageable gelding.

For this reason, most male horses are neutered at a young age. It is only top-class male horses intended for breeding stock who are not neutered.

What Is The Difference Between Mare And Gelding?

The gender of a horse can affect its personality, behavior, and athletic ability. Most of us will only ride neutered male horses, so we will firstly compare those to female horses. We will then look at what makes stallions different from geldings.

The different horse genders have very specific character traits and behaviors. Obviously, these are huge generalizations, and there will always be exceptions to the rule!

Mares have a hormonal cycle that affects their temperament and behavior. These hormones give mares a reputation for being ‘moody’. Female horses are also thought of as bold, stubborn, and unpredictable.

What Is The Difference Between Mare And Gelding

Geldings tend to be more placid and calm, and their reactions are easier to predict. Their mood and behavior is more consistent than mares. Geldings are regarded as dependable and reliable.

The horse genders are not hugely different in terms of athletic performance. However, the difference in temperament is more likely to give either gender a winning edge in competition.

Mares often excel in sports such as jumping and eventing, whereas geldings are well suited to sports such as dressage and racing.

When it comes to stallions, they are very different from mares and geldings! They can be very difficult to handle and will become excitable when they see a mare. Stallions are unsuitable for all but the most experienced riders and handlers.

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What Is Gelding, Mare Or Stallion, And Which Is Better?

So, now we know what is a gelding, mare, and stallion, which do you think is the best gender? Many of us prefer one to another, but they all have their advantages. Which gender of horse you choose very much depends very much on what you want to use it for.

Geldings are normally chosen by riders and trainers who want a sensible and predictable horse. Riding establishments that teach beginner and novice riders will often choose geldings.

A gelding is also often the mount of choice for sports where dependability and reliability are key. They will not be easily distracted, and excel at sports such as dressage and racing. They also enjoy long days out on trail rides and will wander along happily for hours.

Riders and trainers who are more experienced will often choose a mare. This is because they are looking for a mount that challenges them, with an edgy and bold personality. Mares are also very loyal and will develop a close bond with their rider.


So, as we’ve learned, a mare is a female horse, whereas stallions and geldings are both males. The difference between a stallion and a gelding is that the latter has been neutered, to make it easier to handle and ride.

Many trainers and riders prefer using geldings for novice riders and beginners. Mares can be bolder and more challenging and often excel in competitive sports. Stallions are suitable only for very experienced riders and handlers.

We’d love to hear about your preference – do you love courageous mares or prefer level-headed geldings? Or maybe you have any questions about what is a gelding, mare, or stallion? Add a comment below this post and we’ll get back to you!

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