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.
Male Horse Gender Terms
A gelding is a male horse of any age that is castrated, so he can no longer be used for breeding. Geldings are commonly known to be calmer and easier to work with than stallions.
A horse can be castrated, which can also be called gelded, as early as 6 – 12 months. As long as his testicles have dropped, a colt can safely be gelded. Horses can also be gelded well into their teens.
If you don’t plan on using your horse for breeding, it is a good idea to geld them at a young age. Some male horses never have their testicles descend or have been improperly castrated. Though rare, these horses are called rigs.
A stallion is a male horse over the age of four that has not been castrated. Stallions are able to be used for breeding since they have not been castrated.
Since stallions can be difficult to handle, most people only keep stallions for breeding. They can be aggressive towards other horses, though they are generally not aggressive towards people. Stallions often have cresty necks and more muscular bodies than mares and geldings.
Stud and a Sire
When a male horse is used for breeding, he is called a stud. You may hear people say a horse is standing at stud, which means you can breed your mare to him after paying a stud fee.
Once a stallion becomes a father, he is referred to as the sire of his offspring. You will often hear people saying a horse has sired a foal once he becomes a dad.
Colt is the phrase used to describe an uncastrated male horse that is under the age of four. A colt may also be referred to as a foal when he is under a year old.
As we mentioned in our horse genders guide, a colt can is generally sexually mature by 12 – 14 months old. However, many people considered that too young to be used for breeding, so most wait till the colt is at least three years old.
Colt vs a Foal
Colt and foal are both words used to describe baby horses. Colt is specific to male baby horses, whereas foal can be used for male and female baby horses.
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.
Also, read our articles on what a baby horse and female horse are called.