As a friend recently put, “[She] is a testament to why I love mares. They’re just so GAME.”
Really couldn’t put it better, or more succinctly, myself. I’ve touched on it here and there in other posts, but never directly addressed it, but I’ll come right out and say it: I prefer mares.
I won’t get into the mare versus gelding debate, and my opinion on geldings isn’t a disparaging one — I certainly like a good gelding, and if the right one crossed my path, I wouldn’t turn him down. But I have a soft spot for the girls, and given two otherwise equal horses, I would be more likely to give the nod to the mare.
“Oh, good, you can have them!” seems to be the more common refrain, especially among endurance riders, and indeed, I have a handful of friends who flat-out refuse to own mares. (In a field of 198 starters this year at Tevis, there were only 46 mares.)
I really don’t know why mares have such a soft spot for me…I mean, the first lesson horse I habitually rode was a nasty witch of a mare who thought her job in life was serving riders with eviction notices, and the next two “nice” confidence-building horses were geldings.
And then there was Mimi.
Funny thing is, she actually caught my Dad’s attention first — I was hung up on a spotty, experienced — and unfortunately lame — gelding when we went pony-searching at the POA International Sale, and it was at his urging that I shelved my disappointment over the gelding and climbed on Mimi for a test ride.
We haven’t looked back since.
It didn’t hurt that she was — and still is — one of the prettiest POAs I’ve ever seen (nope, not biased at all…;)) and basically the epitome of “little white princess pony,” who can be just as sweet and charming as anything when she wants something.
And then there’s the side of her that kicks her stall, bites you when you wake her up at o-dark-thirty in the morning, nickers and squeals at fenceposts in the spring, and pulls the nastiest faces — all the things that make you say, “Oh. Ah, yes. Mare.”
Yep, still love my mares.
I can’t speak from the perspective of actual ownership of a gelding — just peripheral experience of riding with Dad and Beamer, and then the handful of other people’s horses I’ve ridden — so I don’t know exactly how much of this is “long-time bond that comes with working for a horse for a long time” versus “brand new horse I’m crawling aboard and asking them to work with me.” But the geldings have worked for me…the mares have poured their hearts out for me.
Of course, with Mimi, that’s definitely a long-time bond and partnership at work. But Liberty? I feel like she’s really trying, even with the limited time and rides I’ve had on her.
It’s ironic, given the fact that I myself tend to be overly dramatic, more emotional, and not exactly long on patience…that I would gravitate to mares versus steady-eddy, worker-bee geldings. And especially given my worrywort tendencies, you would think I would gravitate to the ones who won’t let themselves be pushed too hard, versus the overachieving mares. (Although to be fair, it’s a 50/50 thing on the overachievers. One [Mimi], I’ve always been afraid she’ll go until she drops. The other [Libby] has already displayed self-preserving tendencies.)
So it’s not something I can really put my finger on, exactly, other than overwhelmingly positive experiences with very “game” mares. And hopefully many more still to come.