Take a look at the various traits of these two genders.

Most horse owners have a preference between either mares or geldings. It’s common to hear ‘mares are loyal’ or ‘geldings are level-headed’.  Some people are looking to breed, while others need a reliable lesson horse. In any case, many horse buyers struggle with this very important decision- mare or gelding.

It’s hard to say all mares are this and all geldings are that, but there are some stereotypes that seem to fit these genders. Please be advised that not all horses will fit this mold. If you’d like to get a better understanding of the two, then consider these characteristics…

Mare Characteristics

Work Ethic

They are quick to figure things out under saddle and in the barn. The key thing to remember is to work with your mare. You can’t push or belittle her into performing. Mares prefer partnerships! Once they figure out their job and decide they want to do it, you can expect a 110% effort.

With that being said, they also thrive on praise. Mares love to be told they did something well! Make a big fuss when she does something right, and she’ll keep doing it again and again.


It’s a well-known fact that mares exhibit immense loyalty toward their owner. Once you build a proper relationship, your mare is likely to be very affectionate. She’ll even demand attention! They seem to be sensitive to others though. Usually, a mare is a one-owner type horse. They may struggle with having many different riders and handlers. 


Mares don’t like it when you compromise their safety. In fact, they’re likely to hold a grudge if you do.


Many are born leaders and quick to dominate. In this partnership, you’ll have to assert yourself as the lead mare by gaining their respect. Be careful your mare doesn’t learn she can take advantage of you.


It’s a well-known fact that certain mares can become moody while in heat. She may be achy or simply more distracted, but this time of the month can be hard for riders. Ultimately, your mare may put up a bigger fight or act out in frustration. Some common signs of a mare in heat include frequent urinating, raised tail, ‘winking’, squealing, and showing an interest in geldings/stallions.

Gelding Characteristics

Work Ethic

Most geldings are happy to please their riders. With or without the praise, they’ll try! Many are average learners though. Geldings are consistent, but stallions and mares will work with more enthusiasm. Once you figure out a mare, you’ll have an incredible performer. Your gelding is likely to be more level.

Their work ethic is strong and they’re usually dependable. Many beginners learn how to ride on geldings. In general, they don’t have their mind on breeding. They’re not stressed about territorial issues or their mood. This makes them rather pleasant to work with.


Geldings tolerant a lot more than mares. They don’t have the same moodiness that comes with the female gender. Mistakes are often overlooked and rarely do they hold grudges.


Two young geldings in a field can mean trouble. Many are very playful and love attention. You might find them nipping, pushing, and probing others. 

Stallion behaviors

Not all geldings are laid-back. Some actually exhibit stallion-like behaviors. This can include mounting and herding. These geldings can be difficult to handle and may struggle in a herd environment.

Final Thoughts

Gender should be considered when searching for your perfect match, but don’t make it the only factor. Personality, temperament, and experience far out-weigh whether your horse is a mare or gelding. Each horse should be evaluated as an individual. 

Let’s hear your experiences with both mares and geldings! Do you have a preference?


Emily Fought discovered her passion for horses early on in life. When she isn’t writing about them, you can find her in the barn riding. Although Emily’s background is in dressage, she enjoys cross-training and is an avid trail rider. She resides in Northwestern Pennsylvania with her husband and small dog. Together, they own and operate Humblewood Farm.