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Do bossy mares make better trailhorses?

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  • Do bossy mares make better trailhorses?

    Over the last couple of years, I have ridden a couple of definite "lead mare" types who seemed to be very easy to take out alone on the trail. The three I am thinking of were all QH mares who preferred the trail to the arena - and proved to be good at other "task-oriented" riding like sorting and team penning.

    Granted, the horse should be looking to you as the leader, but it is definitely easier when they aren't having to "check in" all the time about every mailbox, dog or stump along the way.

    My sample of horses ridden is on the small side, though, and my own horse is a gelding (he is steady and safe enough but expends a fair amount more nervous energy on the trail than at home) and I wondered if any of you had opinions as to the rightness or wrongness of my impression that bossy mares worry less out there.
    Publisher, http://www.endurance-101.com
    Blog: http://blog.seattlepi.com/horsebytes/

  • #2
    We have five mares. They are all bossy. Four of them, including the herd boss, love their herd and would much rather not ride alone. Then I have a little Arab mare, she's very independent. In the pasture, she does whatever she wants, no matter what the other horses are doing. She is great to take out by herself.


    • #3
      We had a very alpha mare who was afraid of nothing but gunfire. She loved to go for trail rides (with no other horses.)

      She got out one day and we couldn't find her. Called all the neighbors (have you seen a 950 pound loudly marked black and white horse? No?) Looked and looked for her; no luck.

      She was gone for about 36 hours before she came back, filthy and half-wild. We never did find out where she went, but I think she just ran through the woods all that time.
      "Uh, if you're going to try that, shouldn't you unplug it first?"


      • #4
        My gelding is actually VERY dominant. I find he does the best when we aren't in a group because he can get competitive with the other horses. When we are on our own he is wonderful. Although he does like seeing other horses, he is very confident in himself (sometimes a little too much) and is relaxed, not worried, not dependent. Although we are still working on leadership undersaddle he will go ANYwhere I ask him if I am on the ground and go first.


        • #5
          To answer your question, I do not think that VERY dominant mares make great trail horses. Case in point:Very Dominant Witchy mare cannot go out alone. She spooks at her own shadow. She worries about other horses. She worries about leaving, coming back, and being out. She worries about everything but her own safety. When in a group, new or same herd, she spends the entire ride trying to get out front. She even kicked me and my horse on trail. She stopped directly in front of me and started backing up. She started double barrelling me and my horse. When she passed me, she went after another horse.

          Dominant mares making great trail horses. NO. That is my own experience. I know this particular mare...she ain't wrapped right if you know what I mean.

          In different hands, she might be a better horse....Just not mine. I would shoot her or donate her to a local hunt.
          Life is too short to argue with a mare! Just don't engage! It is much easier that way!

          Have fun, be safe, and let the mare think it is her idea!


          • #6
            I'd wondered about this,too. My Morgan mare is dominant in the mare herd and is super on trails alone - rarely spooks, does pretty much anything you ask, loves to go out alone. In company she is competitive and loves to be first, but we are working on that and she is improving. My warmblood cross mare is always on the bottom in the herd and hates to go out alone, although she goes now, after miles of practice. She spooks a lot alone, and when in a group prefers to follow (she'll practically fall asleep doodling along in back). Put her in front and she is wary and worried unless the trail is very familiar.


            • #7
              It's funny you say that, because I have a fairly dominant mare (not a bully, but won't take crap from others if she doesn't feel like it), and she's very task-oriented too. Would MUCH rather be out on trails getting stuff done, or performing a job in the arena like trail obstacles or weaving cones. She just has no interest doing the plain ol w/t/c on the rail all the time.
              Tell a Gelding. Ask a Stallion. Discuss it with a Mare... Pray if it's a Pony!


              • #8
                Like a couple of others have said, the dominant mare was always wanting to get to the front of the group. The one I had did that and it was a pain. We did alot of sideways cantering. She did a great side-pass! When it was just her and 1 other horse though, she was fine. She also didn't like leaving her "buddy".
                "Humans will never devise an invention more beautiful, more simple,
                or more direct than does Nature." ~Leonardo da Vinci


                • #9
                  we have a VERY alpha arab mare, that is unspookable and could care less if she goes out with another horse or not. she hates arena work and is just super happy to truck along on the trail. my VERY submissive gelding can be ridden out alone just fine, but he'd much rather have a buddy. he's not extra spooky but will look harder than the arab mare. i think there may be some truth in it just becasue these alpha mares dont seek other horses for comfort so much.
                  if you can read this, thank a teacher, if you can read this in english, thank a soldier!


                  • #10
                    Both my super Alpha mare and my easy boy gelding worry a little about going out alone but will do it without an argument. The mare is lazier about moving out alone or in company. The two of them do just great together, albeit bickering constantly about who is supposed to go first. Each will babysit another, greener horse out along for the ride. The mare is Safety Horse, but I notice the gelding has started to exhibit some of the same behaviors, going on full alert and spooking more than he used to, oddly enough. (His spooks are pretty tame.) Both will firmly take me in hand if I have picked a wrong trail or asked something unreasonable, both are willing to negotiate. The gelding is my absolute favorite for a solo trail ride because he has more forward. The mare is fun for different reasons, primarily better gaits, WHEN she can be persuaded to put on some speed. (Going home, now, you better hold onto yer hat, pardner.)


                    • #11
                      I really think it is more about independence than dominance.

                      My arab mare is mid-pack in dominance, independent in the field yet pushes for her way on the trail. So yeah, I would consider her "bossy" but not alpha.Very independent, great horse,can go out alone or in a group.

                      The very alpha mare at our barn is spooky and nerve-wracked on the trail and could never go out alone. The rider wouldn't make it off the property without being dumped.


                      • #12
                        Not necesarrily. A good trail horse is quiet and responsive to it's rider. Sometimes a really dominant animal must be constantly reminded who is in charge. That's are real PIA whether alone or in a group.

                        Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão


                        • #13
                          dominant/confident: yes
                          dominant/insecure: no- argumentative by nature

                          subordinate/confident: yes
                          subordinate/insecure: no - easily spooked

                          Confidence is the key. Middle of the herd horses that aren't confident there, are a PITA. Dominant horses that aren't confident in that role, can be a PITA.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by mustangtrailrider View Post
                            To answer your question, I do not think that VERY dominant mares make great trail horses. .
                            I agree as least from what I have seen the dominant mare normally has her own opinion on what she believes needs to done rather than listening to the rider which can get you into trouble in tight places

                            Our best mare is middle of packer, nothing bothers her and she accepts commands without question

                            On the other hand our best gelding is a herd leader , but he wants to please and seeks prasie


                            • #15
                              I have 3 mares - two very bossy/alpha - one not. The one who spooks the most is the one in the middle of the lineup. The least spooky is the doormat that the other two tromp all over.

                              I like the alpha/bossy personality because those two horses are extremely competitive and I love that. They're not just out for a Sunday stroll. They're on a MISSION. The one who is least spooky and also least on the totem pole is on a mission too but if I check her a few times and get her on a loose rein, she'll happily just walk along, checking out the scenery.

                              However, the two bossies - I don't think it's possible for them to truly "not" be on a mission. Both of them just want to get down that trail. The faster the better.


                              • #16
                                My dominant Morgan mare is great on the trail or alone- she's very confident and very steady. She's by far the best trail horse I've ever had.

                                As a general rule, I much prefer mares to geldings
                                "As soon as you're born you start dyin'
                                So you might as well have a good time"