Got Game?

As a friend recently put, “[She] is a testament to why I love mares. They’re just so GAME.”

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the epitome of game face/war ware face

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.)

a little more “goofball” than “game face” at this stage….

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.

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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.”

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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.

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showing potential for a professional game face
photo by Susan Kordish

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.

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7 thoughts on “Got Game?

  1. My limited experience with mares (Q) makes it difficult to say whether or not I’d choose a mare again in the future. She’s got a wealth of issues, but I don’t necessarily think her issues necessarily stem from her being a mare so much as being started too roughly by an asshat. I feel like a lot of horses would have walked away from the same situation with similar scars… Regardless, I’ve ridden a handful of outstanding mares through my life. They’re the ones who stand out the most when I think back on “horses” ridden even though I didn’t spend much more time with them vs. any other random horse. They’re definitely unique!

    • Ah, Q-mare…I think the fact that she walked away from that situation with her heart and “try” still intact is a good reflection on her…I know you’ve had your share of challenges with her, but one of the things I’ve enjoyed about following your blog has been seeing how both of you have grown together.

  2. I’m very partial to mares as well. The hubby’s gelding is the better horse as far as mentality goes but I just find him a bit boring and honestly he acts the same regardless of who rides him. Gem, well now she has personality to spare and winning her over took a long time. Once she let me in though. Wow. I was hooked.

    • That’s been a lot of my experience — good geldings have been good geldings because that’s who they are. (Although I confess it can be nice to hop on one of those every so often and have a bit of a “break”.)

  3. Pingback: November Link Luv | Boots and Saddles

  4. Great post! And I think we’re all up-to-date on my feelings about mares…especially a specific mare who has dragged me through hell-and-high-water until I finally twigged that a goodly portion of her nastiness was due to PAIN.

    (I feel so dumb)

    So now she’s spayed, but still a mare, and a better mare there never was. Except, maybe, sometimes, yours.

  5. Mare power! I love Blaze. Scrappy is a sweetie. Meaning them no discredit, neither of them have the work ethic of many mares I’ve ridden. Blaze actually was the first gelding I ever owned, and his dose of snarkiness is what I find so endearing. Scrappy (and this summer’s sale horse Sparky) are both truly neutered geldings, down to the personality, and it doesn’t entirely work for me though I can make it work. Having ridden work ethic and unending enthusiasm i endurance and then a horse with phenomenal metabolics and all the enthusiasm of “ugh, make it work” I definitely know the mount I am after now, but I wouldn’t necessarily have known it until the massive juxtaposition of trying to do endurance with the two.
    Apache excites me because he was bred and gelded at 6 and has undeniable convictions of his own awesomeness, that bit of ego that I love. so far, in our limited adventure time and of course not yet under saddle–his bold enthusiasm is thrilling and mare-like, if you know what I mean. There’s definitely a solid spectrum of personalities even within the Gelding heading, and again I wouldn’t have really gotten that (being a Mares Are Better type previously) without spending some real time with geldings of each type, as well as my mare inundation.

    wow that went on a bit..anyway, fun post!

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