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Although I have 20+ years training and working with horses, I have actually personally owned very few that were used on a day-to-day basis for me to make comparisons. I seldom had horses in training for more than 8 weeks. Due to the short timeframe, most differences I saw were often chalked up to experience (ability to handle new situations), age, respect toward handler (jumpy or poorly mannered horses), etc. Coincidentally, I really only owned mares until I purchased my first driving team, consisting of Belgian geldings. By common standards, I would also consider my personal horses fairly well trained, dependable, and mannerly, improving with time and experience, of course. Even my mares never gave me major issues, and I seldom knew when they were cycling as I expected mannerly and respectful behavior at all times--not just when they felt like it. My current team of Spotted Draft mares really got me thinking, though, so I am curious on your opinions....for informational purposes mainly.

What differences have you noticed that are really to attributed to gender vs. breed vs. age?

To be more precise on why I got to thinking this, I have noticed a HUGE difference in my mare team compared to my gelding team. I don't know much about how either team got started, other than the geldings were farm-work trained while the mares were more hobby stuff. Both teams were "finished" by Amish horsemen. Both teams were purchased around the age of 4.5-5 years. Since I've had them, both teams have been exposed to similar situations....logging, carriages in downtown city, hauling random things around the farm, pulling different implements, etc. Despite the similarities, though, the mares are a whole different ballgame! Although pretty good and trustworthy overall, they are quicker to react and jump at things, are more sensitive to changes around the farm, are far more sensitive/overreactive to bit pressure, anticipate more, bicker more with each other, etc. I've also noticed they don't tend to handle stressful situations as calmly as the geldings did, and they tend to be quicker to head toss and paw when bored or stressed. Yet, I can't figure it out. Is it a mare/gelding thing, a Belgian/Percheron (my Spotteds are 7/8 Percheron) thing, a "I was a stupid/lucky newbie with the geldings" / "had more experience and more safety conscious with mares" thing, or something else entirely?

So, I am curious, what has been your experience?

vince mautino says 2018-04-05 09:32:59 (CST)



Not a horse person, but a mule person here, but I found that each animal is an individual in itself and a lot of their actions are result of human intervention, good or bad and are not totally dependent on their age, sex or breeding.

Different breeds are certainly noted for different personalities/ dispositions and my personal preference as to sex is geldings /john mules over mares or mollies. However for every instance of comparison, you can find owners with the opposite opinions.

As for age, almost any equine exhibits some signs of mellowing out with age. That too varies with each animal.

JMHO though


5 months ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Klaus Karbaumer says 2018-04-06 08:49:27 (CST)



I agree with Vince, that individually horses differ more than across lines of gender or breed. Of course, generally it can be said that some
breeds are more placid or respectively mettlesome than others, since they were bred for a different purpose, e.g. compare a European Belgian or a Noriker( Southern German coldblood) both of which are renowned for their calm disposition with an Arabian.
In Bavaria I had more mares than geldings, like most Bavarian farmers who prefer to work with mares, since they can be bred. But I cannot say that these showed any remarkable differences in disposition compared to the geldings I work with now except for the times they were in heat. Then they seemed a bit more excitable.
The most important factor in disposition , I think, comes from how the foals were raised. If they are left largely to themselves in herds while young, one cannot expect the same temperament as if they had
been handled a lot, exposed to all kinds of stimulation.


5 months ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

smith says 2018-04-06 14:54:42 (CST)



Age helps a lot other than that it is just a individual trait. Frequent use overcomes some of the behavior .Sounds like you have a good team and they will probably get better. A wise horseman slowly recognizes things that might never change.Some smart guy said "they ain't all Derby winners " smith


5 months ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

G.D.Rose says 2018-04-06 16:02:33 (CST)



One thing that you might be seeing in your teams are their personality toward you. I’ve never had draft horses myself but been around quarter horses my whole life. A example of this is, I was training a young mare for my folks about twenty years ago, this young horse had never jumped a fence before, until I took her to my place and put her in with my horses. She started jumping over fences to go to the neighbors horses about a half mile away and jumping in with their horses. She did this on a regular basis for about a month until I sent back to my folks, and they eventually sold to a someone they knew, this never jumped fences again. I believed that she did not like me for some reason and want to leave. I know this is a extreme example, but have seen horses behave differently around different people. Good luck and continue your horses.


5 months ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Redgate says 2018-04-07 09:39:53 (CST)



I totally get the personality thing! In fact the one horse I learned the most from, yet hated the most, was a big gelding I had for a while. He was older (10) when I bought him, and He had no idea what a gentle hand or light contact was. I really don’t know anything about his precious training. He had a work-horse heart like no other, and would eagerly pull anything you hooked him to. But that was also his downfall. If there was a hard pull, he pulled harder instead of backing off or hesitating—even if commanded. Its like he would mentally get into a “zone” where he could think only of pulling and pulling hard, and wouldn’t respond to any whoa command or pressure until the pull got lighter or he tired. Just about killed my husband once as a result, and took me for a few rough rides (never a run away, just pulling through an area or over obstacles I didn’t desire to go through!). Great horse with a heart of gold, and I’ll always be greatful for what he taught me. He came a long way toward improvement in the year I had him, and learned to work on light contact and voice command. I think that “zone” habit may always be there, though, if he encounters a hard pull. I eventually sold him as a carriage horse (with full disclosure), as he was nearly perfect under lighter workloads like carriages. You could take that horse anywhere.


5 months ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

smith says 2018-04-09 11:58:05 (CST)



What breed was that puller ?


5 months ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Redgate says 2018-04-09 15:23:50 (CST)



He was another Belgian I had for a while.


5 months ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum


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