The dependability and charisma of a great gelding prove why it’s a favorite among cowboys.

Photo by Katie Frank

Those of us who have horses in our lives are undeniably blessed. For some of us, it means we spend a large part of each day in the saddle. For others, it might mean managing a boarding barn, rehabbing injuries or simply enjoying the company of a retired horse on occasion. But it’s a safe bet to say that at some point, all of those involved have been humbled and awestruck by the domestication of this great animal.

That being said, we’ve all got our favorites. I’ve got a true appreciation and deep affection for many of the mares in my life. I love young foals and their unwavering curiosity as they explore the world, bouncing between suspicious caution and playful adventures. I think that the stallions that deserve to be kept as such are extraordinary creatures and merit homage as well. But there is something incredibly special about geldings.

The gelding is often the default, go-to choice for cowboys, horsemen and riders. He’s got a can-do attitude and rarely argues with his rider’s requests. He is here to happily perform his tasks without an emotional fuss, and his work ethic is dedicated and steady. He is clever and kind, with a heart for his job and a predictable disposition. He’s rational and dependable, but don’t mistake his consistent disposition for being a bore. He is often the “funny guy” in the room making up for his lack of excessive testosterone with loads of personality and a sense of humor. I know many geldings that can open gates, untie any knot, and turn any seizable item in the pasture into an excuse for play.

A gelding makes an excellent roommate, whether he’s bunked up with other geldings, mares or even studs. While a mare might create strife in a herd or find reasons to compete with others, the biggest worry in a gelding’s life usually consists of how soon he gets to enjoy his next meal. Rather than get caught up in “marish” cliques and hierarchies, a pen of young geldings is generally seen napping together or playing, chasing and cavorting around. Generally, he is a sensible creature, proving to be steadfast and drama-free in situations where mares and studs would use the same opportunity to react theatrically. He can be thrown in a tight trailer, packed with other horses, or tied closely to others on a highline with little argument or worry.

I have yet to see something stronger and more powerful in the hip than a well-kept gelding. I am particularly fond of those that sport a long, pretty neck and deep girth, with good withers and a kind eye. Although they lack the feminine refinement that mares may boast, geldings are often handsome, balanced animals that exude patience and dependability. A seasoned gelding is a wise creature, a true workhorse that is steady and even and dedicated to his rider and his job.

Selling a horse is often an easier transaction when your animal is a gelding. His reputation precedes him on the ranch, in the show pen or just as a pleasure-riding animal. His lack of libido creates a consistent and trustworthy work ethic in all different circumstances. Geldings are appreciated in every corner of the horse world and found in every scene, from the most competitive rodeo arena to the first ride for a young child in a quiet backyard. He simply makes for a wonderful friend to humans and horses alike.

Yes, I respect the heck out of a great stallion. And there is always room in my barn for a nice mare. But God blessed us all when he gave us the gelding.

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