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What Is a Male Horse Called? Utlimate Guide

What Is a Male Horse Called? Utlimate Guide

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Navigating the complex world of equine terminologies is key to understanding the intriguing behaviors, roles, and potentials of horses.

These distinct labels signify much more than just a horse’s gender – they provide valuable insight into the animal’s life stage, temperamental tendencies, and reproductive status.

This comprehensive exploration aims to delve deep into these intriguing terminologies, unraveling their implications and significance.

This essential knowledge is not solely for horse enthusiasts or professionals but for anyone who appreciates these majestic creatures.

What is a Male Horse Called?

A male horse under four is called a colt, an uncastrated male horse over four is called a stallion and a castrated male horse is called a gelding. However, if a male horse is used for breeding he is also called a stud and once he’s been bred, he’s also a sire.

Any male horse that is used for breeding can be called a stud, but colts are not as commonly used for breeding. You will most commonly see the term sire when looking at the father in a horse’s pedigrees.

Here is a more in-depth look into each male horse term:


A stallion is a mature male horse that has not been castrated, typically over the age of four. Stallions are known for their majestic appearance, muscular build, and often spirited demeanor.

Huge chestnut breton stallion horse with a bridle with the colors of Spain
Azahara Perez /

Their primary role in the equine world is breeding. They are used to sire foals due to their genetic traits, which can be physical attributes, performance abilities, or even particular color patterns.


A colt is a young male horse, typically under the age of four. This term is used to describe a male horse that hasn’t reached maturity.

Once a colt turns four years old, he is no longer considered a colt and instead referred to as a stallion, assuming he is not gelded.


A gelding is a castrated male horse of any age. The procedure of castration, known as gelding, involves removing the testicles of a male horse. This is often done to make the horse easier to handle and work with.

Geldings are usually calmer and less aggressive than stallions, making them popular choices for riding, work, and as children’s horses.

Understanding the Importance of Male These Terms

Knowing the correct terminology for male horses isn’t just useful for horse enthusiasts or professionals in the equine industry. It’s crucial for anyone interested in horses.

Each term gives insights into the horse’s life stage, reproductive ability, and often their behavior.

The Majesty of the Stallion

Stallions, given their role in breeding, are often kept separate from other horses, especially mares, except when breeding. This is due to their strong natural instincts to mate and compete with other stallions.

Two wild mustang stallions fighting in the American wild
Ronnie Howard /

Their power, along with their often impressive looks and spirited nature, tends to make them attractive to horse lovers and breeders. However, their sometimes challenging behavior means they need experienced handlers.

The Promise of the Colt

Colts represent potential. They may grow to become impressive stallions or reliable geldings. Colts, much like young horses of either sex, need proper care, nutrition, and training to ensure they mature into healthy and well-behaved adults.

The Reliability of the Gelding

Geldings, due to their castration, don’t have the hormonal drives of stallions, making them much easier to manage. They’re often chosen as riding horses because of their calmer disposition.

Geldings can participate in all the same activities as mares and stallions, like racing, jumping, dressage, or simply being a pleasure horse.

Facts About Male Horses

  • Geldings are often the most popular horses used for riding.
  • In the middle ages, knights would ride finely trained large stallions called destiers into battle.
  • Colts are often known to be shy when they are younger, but often physically mature faster than females.
  • In many breeds, stallions aren’t allowed in junior exhibitor or ladies classes at shows because they can be unpredictable.

Frequently Asked Questions about Male Horses

1. Why are male horses gelded?

Male horses are gelded primarily to make them more manageable and safer to handle. Stallions can be quite aggressive, especially around mares, and their powerful instincts to mate and establish dominance can make them challenging for many horse owners to manage.

Geldings, on the other hand, are known for their calm and steady nature due to the reduction of testosterone levels. This behavior makes them suitable for various roles, including riding horses, workhorses, and therapeutic riding programs.

2. Can geldings still breed?

No, geldings cannot breed. The process of gelding a horse, also known as castration, involves removing the horse’s testicles.

This operation renders the horse sterile, meaning they cannot father any offspring. The process does not impact the horse’s lifespan, ability to work, or rideability.

3. Are male horses faster or stronger than female horses?

The question of whether male horses are faster or stronger than female horses can be complex. In general, stallions are often more muscular and larger than mares, potentially making them stronger physically. However, when it comes to speed, the difference isn’t as significant.

In horse racing, for instance, mares have held their own against male horses quite successfully. The performance of a horse in speed or strength-related tasks depends more on its breed, training, individual health, and genetics than its sex.

4. Do male horses live as long as female horses?

On average, the lifespan of male and female horses is about the same, typically ranging from 25 to 30 years, depending on the breed, care, and health of the horse.

Geldings may have a slight advantage in terms of lifespan because they are less likely to engage in aggressive behavior that could lead to injury. They are also not prone to reproductive disorders that can occasionally affect stallions and mares.

5. Is it better to get a male or female horse?

The choice between a male or female horse depends largely on the individual horse’s temperament, the owner’s experience level, and what the owner wants to do with the horse.

Geldings are often recommended for beginner riders because they tend to be more docile and predictable than stallions.

Stallions, due to their natural instincts, can be more challenging to handle and are generally recommended for experienced handlers

Mares can also make excellent companions, although their mood can sometimes change with their reproductive cycle.

It’s important to remember that every horse is an individual, and there can be a wide range of horse personalities within each sex.