If you are wondering what a female horse or a male horse is called you are in the right place. There are a handful of terms we call horses based on their gender and their age. This also pertains to ponies.
It is important to know these terms and be able to identify a male or female horse, if you are going to be riding and working with horses or plan to have a horse of your own someday.
Male and female horses aside from different genitals also have different characteristics as well.
By the end of this article my hope is that you understand and can name the different horse gender and age terms, be able to identify whether a horse or pony is a male or a female and know the main stereotypical differences of the genders.
Horse Gender & Age Terminology
|Colt||An uncastrated male horse or pony that is 4 years or younger and has not yet been used for breeding.|
|Filly||A female horse or pony that is 4 years or younger. In some racing associations, females can be considered fillies up to 5 years old.|
|Foal||A foal is a horse or pony of either gender that is 1 years old or younger. A male foal is known as a “Colt Foal”, and a female foal is known as a “Filly Foal”.|
|Weanling||A weanling is a foal that is weaned from the mother and no longer gets the mother’s milk. The weanling foal is put on a solid food diet of roughage and concentrates. Foals are typically weaned between half a year to a year old. A female is known as a “Weanling Filly” and a male is known as a “Weanling Colt.”|
|Yearling||A yearling is a horse or pony of either gender that is 1 years old like the name explains. The horse is considered a yearling until 2 years of age. A female yearling is known as a “Yearling Filly”, a male yearling that has not been gelded (castrated) is known as a “Yearling Colt.”|
|Stallion||A stallion is a full-grown male horse with his testicles intact. A colt becomes a stallion at 4 years old.|
|Gelding||A gelding is a male horse that is 4 years or older and has been castrated (had his testicles removed).|
|Rig||A rig or a Ridgling is also known as a cryptorchid horse which is a male horse that has 1 or both testicles undescended, making the horse look like a gelding but acting like a stallion due to the testosterone.|
|Mare||A mare is a female horse that is 4 years or older.|
|Stud||A stud is a male horse that is a stallion or uncastrated male horse. This is a quality horse that is used for breeding purposes.|
|Broodmare||A broodmare is a female horse that is 3 years or older and used for breeding purposes.|
|Sire||Sire is a male horse and is the term used for the father of an offspring or foal.|
|Dam||Dam is a female horse and is the term used for the mother of an offspring or foal.|
|Aged||An aged horse is either gender that is 15 years old or older. A female horse would be called an “Aged Mare” and a male horse would be called an “Aged Gelding” or “Aged Stallion” depending on whether the male was castrated or not.|
Photo Examples Of Gender/Age Terms
Identifying Whether A Horse Is Male Or Female
It is not all that hard to determine whether a horse is male or female.
Look under the horse’s belly toward the hindlegs if you see a sheath then it is a male. The penis may be tucked up into the sheath or hanging out. Usually the penis is hanging out when the horse is really relaxed or when the horse is aroused by a mare.
A stallion will have testicles behind the sheath between the hindlegs. A gelding won’t have any testicles.
The testicles drop between 30 days before birth to 10 days after birth.
Sometimes colts have testicles that never dropped and they look like geldings. Or one testicle dropped and they had it removed but the horse still the other one that never dropped. These are in fact still intact stallions or colts and they act like it.
I mentioned this in the horse gender terminology. They are called several names a rig or a ridgeling which is also known as a cryptorchid horse.
Now that you know what to look for in a male horse let’s go over how to tell a horse is a female. Well, a big indication a horse is a female is that the horse has no genitals under the belly toward the hind legs, but there are teats located there. Where a mare would nurse her young. If you lift up the horse’s tail the anus will be right under the top of the tail and right below the anus is the vulva (the mare’s female part.)
Male Horse Characteristics
Geldings and Stallions are both males but have very different characteristics. Stallions are often gelded so that they are easier to manage and handle.
Stallions have testosterone which affects their focus, makes them stronger, flashy and more muscular. Stallions tend to get easily distracted especially around mares. They tend to get one thing on their mind.
Some stallions are easier to handle than others but most are on the more aggressive side. Stallions usually look buff compared to geldings, their necks are especially noticeable and muscular.
Geldings are usually level headed because they are not clouded by testosterone and the desire to breed. They are also not as muscular as stallions. Geldings can be aggressive which is more driven by personality and environment compared to a stallion who might act aggressively due to testosterone.
Geldings are most commonly desired among equestrians because of their lack of hormone fluctuations.
Female Horse Characteristics
Mares are easier to work with than stallions, but sometimes more difficult than geldings. Mares going into heat on a regular basis and like stallions get distracted by sexual urges. It’s called Estrus when a mare is in heat and happens roughly every 21 days.
The hormones in mares fluctuate a lot and are seen to have moody behaviors periodically. Some mares are level headed and you can’t even tell when a hormonal change is happening and then other mares are extremely moody and aggressive. So it depends on the mare.
Some people prefer mares. They tend to bond more with one person whereas a gelding might be okay with several people. Mares also have that motherly instinct that may contribute to the strong bond they can have. But I have seen geldings be one person type horses as well.