Choosing the perfect horse for a beginner can be a real challenge. I’ve heard this question being asked quite a bit: are female horses better for beginners than male horses? There’s a general idea that mares are better mannered than stallions, which would make them better suited for an aspiring equestrian in his or her early years.
The truth is that a horse’s gender has little to do with its disposition and temperament. For beginners, the best horse is one that was trained specifically to handle inexperienced riders. As for gender, I’d say that a gelding (a castrated stallion) is a better choice when compared to a mare. Geldings are easier-going and will generally tolerate an inexperienced rider without making too big of a fuss.
The statement above is highly generalistic, though. And generalizing is dangerous when it comes to choosing a horse for a beginner. Therefore, I’ll go into more detail and I’ll explain the differences between stallions, geldings, and mares so that you can make an informed decision.
Why are stallions ill-suited for beginners?
Stallions are known to be dangerous, but why exactly is that? The best term I can use to describe these strong and beautiful horses is: unpredictable. Even the most docile and well-mannered stallion can surprise an inexperienced rider. Some of them give “tells” before they misbehave while others just buck their rider out of the blue or bolt for no apparent reason.
Sometimes, stallions will become more focused on finding a mare in heat rather than doing their work. For riding, you’ll want a horse that’s as predictable as possible, one that will listen to your commands and won’t misbehave if you make the slightest mistake.
That being said, mares are not much better in some cases. Let’s talk about them for a bit!
Not all mares will behave properly.
In general, female horses are believed to be better-mannered and gentler than stallions. The problem with mares is that they’re prone to mood swings, which again, makes them unpredictable. It’s not uncommon for a mare to be the sweetest thing you’ve ever seen one day and to behave completely different the next.
That applies to some mares, but not to all of them. There are other factors that can influence a female horse’s mood. When they go into heat, for instance, they become more difficult to work with.
In truth, we can’t look at gender to determine a horse’s personality as a whole. That’s because horses have different personalities regardless of their sex, just like humans and just like almost every other mammal in the world.
Geldings behave better than stallions.
A gelding is a male horse that has been castrated. These horses are generally a lot quieter and more tolerant when compared to stallions. Some of them will tolerate a beginner’s mistakes with ease, which makes them better suited for inexperienced equestrians.
Again, it’s dangerous to generalize because some geldings can indeed misbehave and cause accidents. It’s important to know the horse you’re about to buy before you actually decide on going through with it. Spending some time with it beforehand is ideal, of course, but that’s not always possible. What you can do is talk to the owner and ask him to describe the horse’s temperament and demeanor beforehand.
If you know what you’re doing, look for a kind-eyed horse. And if you don’t know how to spot one, bring someone more experienced along.
What is a kind-eyed horse?
Many equestrians believe that they can judge a horse’s personality by analyzing its eyes. Some say that the amount of white around the eye itself is what determines the kind-eye, while others look at the color and size of the eye itself. These requirements vary in different kinds of the world. There is no scientific base, mind you, it’s more of a feeling.
A kind-eyed horse is a well-mannered horse that was trained gently. As such, it is able to handle beginner riders with ease. In order to find a kind-eyed horse, you might want to start looking at registered breeds.
Registered breed horses cost significantly more than unregistered ones, but you’re more likely to find a kind-eyed horse among them. A registered gelding will be cheaper because it won’t have any reproductive potential. Furthermore, as we’ve established above, geldings are often more stable mood-wise when compared to mares and stallions.
Other important factors.
If we were to set gender aside for a moment, there are other things that we can look at when choosing a good beginner’s horse. For instance, we can analyze the horse’s behavior under varying circumstances.
We can analyze how the horse behaves with experienced riders and how it is able to handle inexperienced ones. We can also measure its level of tolerance to mistakes, and how responsive it is when it receives inconsistent aids.
While a bit more dangerous to test, it’s important to know how the horse behaves when its rider loses balance and falls off. Some horses will just bolt, others will wait for the rider to get up, and others might even trample the rider.
Last but not least, we should see how the horse behaves around other horses in the barn. It can be aggressive, fearful, or it might ignore them completely. Other factors that might come into play include the rider’s age, the horse’s age, and the horse’s general temperament.
Let’s do a quick recap of what we’ve learned about the differences between male horses, female horses, and geldings, and which one is the better choice for a beginner.
- Male horses (stallions) are generally more unpredictable than geldings or mares.
- Geldings are better-mannered because they have no reproductive drive.
- Mares are prone to mood swings and might become difficult to work with when they’re in heat.
- A horse’s gender should not be the sole factor in choosing a horse for a beginner.
- The best beginner’s horse is one that was trained for the job.
- Some believe that a kind-eyed horse is the best horse for a beginner. This could be a myth, though.