Somebody told me that smaller pony geldings are more likely to be difficult to handle than mares of similar height. As I am currently looking for a placid 13 to 14hh mount, I'd hate to make a mistake re gender. The only mare we ever had was an elderly 11hh nursemaid who taught my kids to ride, our bigger horses have always been geldings, which we prefer. Please advise.
What a very interesting question!
When it comes to choosing the right horse, I generally like to look at other factors first, rather than base my decision on gender. The reason for this is that you may miss out on some really good ponies because they were not the sex you were looking for. Saying that smaller pony geldings are naughtier is sort of like saying blonde have more fun! That all depends on the blonde!
What I would suggest is that you leave your options open and look at as many ponies as you can. That will give you a good feel for what is out there. A few questions that will help you narrow your ideal pony options BEFORE you look at anything are things like:
- how important are looks and training? (will the pony need to compete)
- under what conditions will the pony be living?
- what kind of temperament am I looking for?
- how important is age?
- what is my price range?
- how much time can I spend on training and who will be helping me?
- what vices will I be able to live with, if any?
Narrow your options down and make a physical list of what you are looking for. In that way, you will know when a pony does not fit the criteria immediately, without letting your emotions get the better of you when horse-hunting.
Remember that the older a pony is the more life experience it normally has, which can make it safer for smaller children - or vice versa! A pony that has a proven track record with kids might be a safer buy than a youngster that still has to prove himself. A youngster on the other hand, is a cleaner slate on which to write - if you have the knowledge and experience to do so, and has not had the disadvantage of being spoiled by the many bums that have been on his back!
Regarding the differences in gender - each one has its own pro`s and con`s and each individual is so different, it would be difficult to generalise! I have found mares to be slightly more strong willed and dominant initially, but if you can win them over, they will give you 100% more than any gelding! When a mare gives you her heart it really is forever, and she will look after you until the end. You will have to contend with hormones though, like all women, and some mares are very moody when in season, others are not. Mares can also be a little sensitive about being touched behind, and may kick out - especially when coming into season, although each mare is different. (That would be something to check when looking at a prospective pony)
Geldings on the other hand seem to know that you are in charge - they are always pretty much the same and what you see is what you get. Of course there are little terrors out there that will push every button and get away with all sorts of mischief, but generally speaking they are more even keeled than mares.
Also remember that dynamite really does come in small packages - so the smaller the pony, the more spark! Little ponies can be devils, just like some of the kids who ride them, so be careful when making your choice. I would rather generalise and say that ponies are a lot naughtier than horses!
I would look at each prospect individually and would find the pony that best suits your needs. Never exclude a pony based on gender - a good horse is a good horse!