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Anyone turn out mixed-genders?

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  • Anyone turn out mixed-genders?

    I've had my mares in mixed herds (and not) at various barns I've boarded at. They seem fine with it. It seems to depend more on the specific horses rather than gender, whether they get along.

    For example, one paddock right now has one of my mares (usually alpha), another mare, and a gelding. The gelding is actually alpha, and my alpha mare shares hay with him and is friendly with him. .

    In the summer, when there were some different horses at the barn, my other mare (very submissive) was out with a more dominant mare and a mellow gelding. They all got along fine. When she was in heat she would flirt with him, but he ignored her.

    I don't think they've ever been in a group where there were more than one gelding and also mares - maybe that makes a difference in them getting along?

    Any observations on this?

  • #2
    We've done some mixing with the ponies at the barn, but how well it goes seems to depend on individuals. There was one mare and one gelding in particular where it was a serious issue; the mare didn't much care about the gelding, but he became so attached to her that it was an issue during group riding lessons. If anyone else was near her, he'd become more aggressive than was appropriate.

    During the winter months, when the paddocks are schlocky or frozen over, all the ponies in the barn go out in the indoor in a big pony herd, and it works very well. The alpha mare tends to try and herd "her" girls, but there's no fighting to speak of. It's the most adorable part of my day, really.


    • #3
      yep - we mix them but it does depend on the horses. Mine all tend to be bottom of the pecking order horses in general, so when they are together they are pretty mellow in their actions. Right now I have two geldings and a mare, last year I had one gelding and two mares. They seem to figure it out : )


      • #4
        Usually I do not mix genders. But since there are just two mares on the whole place I do now
        "If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there"


        • #5
          My horses live on 5 acres in a mixed herd. My alpha mare's soul mate is the alpha male....they are always together...what a power couple! For the most part they get along with the others, but are definitely more pushy around feed time. My young gelding is middle of the pack and sort of mingles with everyone. He seems to attract more lady friends when they are in season! When the mares are not in season the girls usually seem to hang around together. The dynamics are 3 geldings and 4 mares. When a new horse is introduced the herd boss usually chases them away from the group for a few days and then they assume their position at the bottom of the totem pole. In a lot of ways it is a painful reminder of junior high!


          • #6
            Yep, right now I've got 2 geldings and 2 mares out together. It works well for them, the boys seem to stick together as do the girls and there is a very odd herd dynamic. Nobody is really alpha, and nobody is at the bottom. Everybody is both dominant and submissive to another horse. It seems to be keeping everyone in check!

            I tend to think that personalities play a bigger role in turnout dynamics than gender does. I certainly wouldn't put my very studly gelding in with girls, but I've also seen girls that become very agressive with other girls. I find it better to find a group of horses that get along rather than to just turnout the geldings together and the mares together.
            A lovely horse is always an experience.... It is an emotional experience of the kind that is spoiled by words. ~Beryl Markham


            • #7
              ours are mixed. Young ones are grouped together by age rather than sex (colts are gelded). I've also boarded with mixed herds. It was all about individuals - only one strong Alpha was the constant I noticed.
              Epona Farm
              Irish Draughts and Irish Draught Sport horses

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              • #8
                Yep. My gelding is turned out with another gelding and three mares. The fourth mare is a POA (read: PITA) and is down right dangerous at times, let along extremely agressive when she wants to be. So, she's kept by herself. The herd is just fine like that... with the two geldings and the three mares. Gringo's lower on the toedom (sp?) pole but won't take crap. It works well with all of them.

                Gus, he's only (since I've had him... going on 9 years) been turned out with other geldings. He's very food aggressive... so not sure how he'd be with mare too.
                Proud owner of Gus & Gringo.
                See G2's blog


                • #9
                  The horses themselves really do matter. We have 2 mares with 5 geldings. They are split with one gelding and one mare in their own pasture but that's because she doesn't prefer company (just wants to know they are there) and he can't eat the round bales fed in the bigger pasture (heaves). Otherwise they are all out together and get along just fine.

                  As with any horse group they find their pecking order and sometimes have to reestablish things to make sure no one should take over Other than that I haven't noticed any difference.

                  My retired horse who lives at this farm used to be at a different barn where I turned him out with one other horse who happened to be a mare. He got attached to her but not in any way that inconvenienced me-still rode and did all things necessary. Even now he does like his mares but only because he bosses them around. He's much more attached to 3 of the geldings.

                  My other horse is at a barn where he goes with only one other gelding. The other fields have mixed turn out groups and are fine. I don't really see a problem with it unless one of the horses is super tuned in to their gender
                  Lord Stanely, Lord Stanley - come back to Pittsburgh!!!
                  *** I LOVE PUIKA FAN CLUB***


                  • Original Poster

                    I'm at a small barn, and the horses turn over every few months as many of them are there for 3 months training, and then go home again. The four permanent residents are all mares. When there are several geldings, then the groups tend to get split by gender. There is limited pasture, so the division is sometimes easy keepers vs. hard keepers, with the ones who need it going on the grassier pastures, and the easy keepers/ponies on a dry lot, depending on the season. They also get swapped around depending on who gets along with whom as the residents change.


                    • #11
                      Our barn has a mixed gender herd of about 20 horses, ranging from ponies to draft crosses, and they all do fine. There are a couple of mares that have their own paddocks, as they really have a problem with the group turnout, but for the vast majority, it works very well. Of course, we monitor the group very closely when new horses come in, and new horses do get some dings while figuring out their place in the order, but we have not had any real problems.
                      Some nights I stay up cashing in my bad luck; some nights I call it a draw. -- fun.

                      My favorite podcasts: Overdue, The Black Tapes, Tanis, Rabbits, How Did This Get Made?, Up and Vanished.


                      • #12

                        I just had to read this thread...

                        From the title of this thread, I thought the OP was asking
                        who was breeding hermaphrodite horses!!!!


                        • #13
                          YEP. When anyone starts getting a bit heady with their herd hierarchy we turn the little TB mare out with them to bring them back to reality!

                          She also disciplines whomever is hogging on the hay rounds.

                          And she helps keep the run-in stall a whole lot cleaner - they're all standing outside!
                          Don't let anyone tell you that your ideas or dreams are foolish. There is a millionaire walking around who invented the pool noodle.


                          • #14
                            I used to be at a small private facility where there was one group turnout for 4 mares and 4 geldings (horses rotated in and out of this herd). They were separated into groups of 2 at dinner but otherwise, spent the day together. They sorted out their issues and no one got hurt. I'm not sure if this is the ideal way to go but it seemed to work at the time.

                            Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation


                            • #15
                              We used to turn out in a mixed herd, 2 mares and 3 geldings. Since the newest horse arrived there have been issues, he fancies himself quite the stud and has claimed one of the mares as his own. Now he can be turned out with everyone else, but he gets possessive if she's part of the group, so we've started to split them into 2 groups-he's in one and she's in the other, which seems to eliminate any issues


                              • #16
                                At home we have 1 mare and 3 geldings, and the herd dynamics are very fun to watch. We started with 1 mare and 1 gelding who bonded quite strongly (gelding was and still is gooly-eyed in love with the mare). A year later we added the Old Geezer, who would be low man on any totem pole. Finally, the next year we added a younger gelding, who successfully challenged the first gelding for top spot.

                                The mare is pretty alpha, except when she's in heat. Then she will even sidle up to the Old Geezer and bat her eyelashes at him. When she does, he literally draws back with a look of horror on his face "who are you and what have you done with the mare that usually beats me up?".

                                After they eat is the funniest of all. They are separated to eat in the run-in barn, but once they are let loose they have access to the whole thing again. The first gelding always goes to see what the Old Geezer dropped (well, he's old......they do dribble a bit). The younger gelding, who is not let loose until all the others have been let go, immediately chases him out of the barn and goes to vacuum up himself. The mare promptly pushes him out of the area - and invites the first gelding to come back in and finish with her. And if the original gelding insists, the mare will even completely back away but still not let the younger gelding come back. In the pasture they generally graze 2 by 2, but which 2 have paired up seems to change from month to month. But the feeding time behavior always remains the same.

                                At the trainer's barn there is one large mixed group of 20+ horses. They have multiple run-in shelters in the big pasture as well as several round bale areas, and everybody seems to do OK. But the pasture boarders are turned out in smaller pastures in groups of 3-4 each. Any time there's a new boarder, a whole balancing act has to take place. It's based on individual personality, though, rather than gender.......although I do recall one pair of older mares that could only be turned out with each other and sometimes 1 additional mare. But it was accepted wisdom at the barn that the one mare didn't like many people or ANY other horses........and since the kid that owned her showed Hunters, she had a helluva time in a crowded flat class.
                                Incredible Invisible


                                • #17
                                  My little Silver Yearling checked into my sorority a year ago. It was his own fault; I DID order internal plumbing. I have always just especially enjoyed mares.

                                  It is hilarious to watch him with the girls. No real herd problems, but they are all so status conscious, and he not only doesn't have a chance but is clueless. Typical day's conversation, with body language as loud as words:

                                  Kate: I am alpha. Everybody needs to understand that I am alpha.

                                  Missy: You only think you are alpha. But since I am busy with the real work, like protecting the herd, go ahead and delude yourself if it makes you feel better.

                                  Twister: How close to Kate can I get before she'll react this time? Another half inch. Okay, look away and graze. Act nonchalant. Another inch. (whistling to herself) So much fun to push her buttons and watch her have a fit. I'm keeping score, and I'm ahead in the game.

                                  Freedom: I'm always stuck down here at the bottom of the totem pole. It's not fair, and I'll never get over - oh look, there goes a grasshopper! Um, sorry, what was I saying?

                                  Toccata, the Silver Yearling: Why do you always spend part of the time standing around making faces at each other? I don't get it. Come on, girls, let's play!


                                  • #18
                                    My show gelding goes out with a herd of mares. I didnt want him on private turnout, but he's too wussy to go out with the geldings. "His" mares treat him like a king. I had to buy the next size halter up.


                                    • #19
                                      never mind...


                                      • #20
                                        Mine keeps the 3 yr old in check. He's a little "playful" and she'll run around with him but when she's had enough she swing that ol' arse around in his face and he settles right down. LOL.
                                        Who needs wings when you've got a jumper?