Mares or geldings?
I have always had mares, always loved mares and appreciated their attitude and yes, even sympathized with their hormonal issues. After all, I have the same issues: Attitude, bitchiness and extended hormonal moments that amount to extreme moodiness.
I've always assumed I'll never have anything but mares. When I was looking for another horse after Star died, I was looking for mares. I didn't give geldings a passing glance. The experience I'd had with geldings amounted to horses that were overly compliant, slow and maybe a little on the dumb side. You could ask them to jump off a cliff and they would.
Mares, on the other hand, present a challenge. You ask a mare nicely, sometimes you even have negotiations with a mare. You never tell a mare without repercussions. They resent unfairness and tend to hold grudges. I like that in my horses. I didn't want a horse that was predictable all the time. How boring and mind-numbing is that?
But when I saw Gabe it was over. Gelding or not, he was the one and I knew it instantly. I almost didn't even go look at him because he had the wrong "parts." I'm glad I did. I knew he was different than the other geldings I'd had experience with. He is a gelding with a bit of a stallion attitude. He presents just enough of a challenge to keep me on my toes, but at the same time, he is different than a mare. I pretty much know what to expect from him from day to day. There are no mood swings or bitchiness, there is the occasional teen-like attitude from him, but if you finesse him a bit and point him down the right path, he complies with little grumbling. He's just testing his boundaries I do believe and I don't mind. He isn't the type of gelding I've run into in the past...he isn't the typical "tell a gelding" kind of guy. We have negotiations and discussions but they are reasonable. He just asks that I be fair and I just ask that he put in a good effort and as long as both sides understand the rules, we get along fabulously.
I don't have to wash his tail and back legs every other month due to mare-ish grossness. But I really can do without the sheath cleaning...ewww...stinky!
The more I watch Calypso out in the pasture really being bossy and bitchy to both geldings, the more I don't want to have one in my little herd of boys and the more I understand why so many large barns keep their mares and geldings separated. Mares are shit-disturbers. I've seen her go out of her way to chase Gabe around. We have fairly good-sized pastures and she'll go all the way to the OTHER side of the field just to move Gabe around, not because he's wandered too close, not because he's being obnoxious towards her, but simply because she can. I think that once she is taken out of the herd the two boys will get along fabulously. She's an instigator, she's a hussy with no qualms about playing both sides of the proverbial fence...she's buddy-buddy with Gabe one hour, the next hour, he's getting the stink eye and she's rubbing all over Chief like he's all that and a bag of chips.
I still love mares. I still like their personality and their attitudes and their witchiness...but I think I'm at a time in my life when I need a little less drama in the arena and on the trail, and right now, Gabe is my perfect match.