Like many other fields of interest, the equestrian world has its own set of unique words and terms used to identify the players within it. That said, what is a female horse called?
A female horse is referred to as a mare in equestrian circles. While mare is the general term used to refer to female horses, other words exist to refer to them as well.
They are based on different stages and conditions that the mare may be under. To get to know the terms used to describe a female horse, we’ll highlight a few details about them and get to understand a little more about these beautiful creatures.
Terms used to describe Female Horses
Before discussing more details regarding female horses, it’s prudent to first acquaint ourselves with terms associated with female horses.
- Filly: Baby horses are called foals, whatever their gender. Filly is used to describe a female foal.
- Mare: This is the term used to describe an adult female horse. (Age 4 and above)
- Dam: This term refers to a female horse that has given birth and is nursing a foal. It’s essentially what you’d call a mother horse.
- Broodmare: This term describes a female horse that is used mainly for breeding purposes.
- Boss Mare: As the name suggests, this term refers to the dominant female in a herd.
- Spayed Mare: This term is used to describe a female horse that has been sterilized. (had its reproductive capacity stopped)
Physical Characteristics of a Female Horse
- The simplest way to tell a horse is female is to check the backside of the underbelly for udders. Depending on the age of the mare, the udders may vary in size.
- Looking under the tail, you ought to see two openings. One of them is the anus, and the other is the genital opening, vulva.
- Mares are usually smaller in stature compared to their male counterparts. They are shorter and less bulky.
- Their pelvic area is more widely set compared to male horses. This fact can be attributed to the difference in reproductive organs.
- The shape of their head is fairer compared to male horses, usually being slightly more elongated.
Psychological Characteristics of a Female Horse
Mares are actually good work companions for draft work. They have a high drive for work and perform well as long as you respect and care for them.
Reinforce the love you have for them by rewarding them when they’re successful at a task. This way, the bond you have deepens, and she will learn to appreciate you back by being more driven when working.
Mares have high self-preserving capabilities
They are intelligent creatures that never hesitate to do what they think is right for them. They prioritize safety and mutual respect. If you mistreat them, they have the ability to hold grudges, and you don’t want a mare angry at you!
They are Delicate
Mares value good relationships with their owners. If you treat them well, they’ll grow a strong sense of loyalty and love for you. They can love you so much to the point of sometimes seeking your attention much as your partner does!
Reproduction in Female Horses
To get the best possible offspring, the quality of the mare matters just as much as the siring male counterpart. So, picking out a suitable mare for foaling is the first step.
For a mare to get pregnant, two avenues can be pursued:
This is the natural method. It involves allowing the male horse to directly deposit semen into the mare via copulation.
AI (Artificial Insemination)
This method involves collecting the sample sperm from a male horse (Stallion) and depositing it into the mare using specialized equipment. It’s a popular method employed when live copulation proves difficult or when breeding needs to be controlled to a high degree.
Before reproduction can occur, however, you should first ensure she’s in top medical shape.
- Have completed all her medication and vaccinations at least 90 days before copulation or AI. Doing either of these during pregnancy can be detrimental to the process.
- Be completely disease-free and healthy enough to conceive and carry a foal to term.
- These simple steps can make or break the foaling process, so pay attention to them.
Once a mare has successfully conceived, the wait for successful foaling begins.
The gestation period of a foal for most horse breeds is about 320 to 342 days. This time roughly translates to around 11 months. This fact means horses can only bear one foal in a year.
Sometimes, this period may go on longer, completing a year even. You shouldn’t be worried though. That’s normal for some breeds and in other circumstances too.
When a mare is pregnant, ensure you follow some guidelines on how to best care for them within that period. Some of the measures you ought to take include:
Expectant mares can keep to their usual diet for the first 4-6 months of the pregnancy. After that period, the development of the foal reaches a critical period, and some dietary adjustments have to be made.
You should start feeding her more nutritious feed, suitable for helping both mare and unborn foal. Vitamin and other mineral supplements should also be included at this point.
- They get enough exercise daily either within a safe pasture area or enclosure.
- The pregnant mare isn’t exposed to sickly horses who can transmit the disease to her.
- You always monitor your mare’s health condition. Regular vet checkups are needed to ensure everything is going smoothly.
- Be careful not to administer any drug, vaccine, or hormone shots. Only a vet can decide on these matters.
- The company your pregnant mare keeps within this period is compatible and friendly with her. Doing so reduces the chances of raising her stress levels which can be harmful, especially under the circumstances.
Throughout the whole period of her pregnancy, you should be cautious of overfeeding her. Aim to provide only the adequate amount of food your mare requires throughout the various stages of her pregnancy.
Spaying refers to the act of surgically removing a mare’s ovaries.
The common reason for doing so is to interrupt the mare’s estrous cycle. During this cycle, mares are hormonal and can act out their feelings aggressively.
The necessity of this procedure is a hotly debated topic in the equestrian world because of various reasons. The implications it has on the mare, for instance, can be disastrous.
Many argue that despite a mare’s behavior when in heat, it can’t measure up to the aggressiveness of stallions. For the most part also, mares are consistently calmer than stallions.
Looking at the procedure itself, it’s a risky procedure from the get-go. Several mares are known to die afterward because of the after-effects of the operation. For the owner, it’s also quite costly to have done.
Sometimes it’s a necessity considering the health of the horse. For instance, when there’s the risk of ovarian cysts or other ovarian ailments occurring.
Interesting Facts about Mares
- Mares follow what is called an estrous cycle. This cycle occurs in the spring and fall seasons, every 18 to 23 days, during which the mare is in heat. (Hunting for a mate) This heat can also be induced using specialized drugs.
- They’ve been observed to be smarter, gentler, and shyer than stallions.
- They commonly give birth at night or before dawn. This trait could be a result of inherited instincts from their lineage who lived in the wild. Giving birth at this time was safer for them since predators would be scarce.
- When it comes to development and maturing, they do so at a slower rate compared to their male companions.
- The milk they produce is a delicacy in some parts of the world. It can be used to make sour milk and cheeses as well.
- They can, on occasion, foal twins. Yes, horses can have twins!
The Mare vs. Stallion Debate
Solely looking at horses in terms of companionship capabilities, which of the sexes is better? A strong argument can be made for mares, in all honesty.
The temperament of female horses is what commonly makes this argument sound. Mares are simply less aggressive than stallions. They do have their feisty periods, but they can’t match the constant aggressiveness of stallions.
This favorable temperament makes them more loving, understanding, and forgiving. Mares are renowned for the strong sense of love and loyalty they develop with their owners.
When it comes to other activities, like draft work, training, or equestrian sports, mares can be just as great. Their gentle demeanor makes them easy to work with in all these scenarios.
They can also reproduce to give you many more companions. What’s not to like about mares? They are awesome!
A Final Word…
You have now learned that a female horse is called a mare. This post has also discussed some other details concerning them that have hopefully helped you understand and know more about them.
If you’re looking to buy a horse, why not go for a majestic mare? They’re loving, gentle, beautiful, and loyal. Happy riding!