I currently have a mare, a jennet and a 6 month old jack (soon to be gelded). I am thinking of adding another horse so my partner can ride with me.
My question is this, would a mare or a gelding be a better choice? My animals are kept on approx. 3-4 ac. with 3 run in sheds, I do not have stalls. I do have ways to keep different horses in different paddocks if need be.
I want to avoid (suggestions please!) the new horse and my mare becoming herd bound and dependent on one another. Would it make a difference if I purchased a mare or a gelding?
What are some ideas for keeping the two horses independent, yet still allowing them to interact?
I don't think it will make a difference. I know some folks are really adamant about not having mixed turnout, but I've never had any issues that seemed "gender" based. The problem horses seemed to be those who had never really BEEN in a herd situation and didn't pick up on "leave me alone" cues from other horses. I've seen that with geldings and mares.
That said, some people really have preferences on having mares vs geldings. For example, geldings often are more consistent without the changing hormone levels /going in/out of heat. But then again, you have to clean sheaths and some people just don't want to deal with that. Other people think that mares tend to be smarter so they prefer them.
Honestly? The sex of the horse would be about the last thing I'd be worrying about (other than not wanting a stallion). I'd focus more on the other checklist items and find a horse that is suitable for your partner.
As for the herd bound stuff, if they're being worked separately often enough and have buddies with them, I wouldn't be terribly worried.
Now the amount of space you've got plus 3 run-ins would cause me a little more concern. Do you really have enough space for another horse? Zoning wise, is it allowed?
A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.
What BuddyRoo said... the individual horses' personalities matters more than the gender. I'd look for a horse that suits your needs and just pay special attention to the horse's herd behavior while shopping.
If I had a crystal ball and could predict which horses would become ridiculously herd-bound, I would have saved myself a lot of headaches over the years! Some horses have insecure or "needy" personalities that you can peg right off the bat... but others you'd never expect to care sometimes bond like super glue to a new buddy!
Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO
I agree with all that has previously stated. I have two horses that are a constant, a mare and a gelding. I needed a spare so I tried a great gelding but the dynamics just did not work. Next I tried a mare. The group dynamics are considerably better with the mare but I have sacrificed on the quality of the horse (she is less bomb proof) for the sake of the herd.
It just depends on the personalities of the horses. Good luck!