Turnout - Mares and Geldings

Currently I have 3 geldings and will be looking for a new horse for my daughter this fall. My friend offered me her lovely older mare for free lease while she attends grad school.

My conundrum is how would I do turnout?

2 current horses can have grass and one is on dry lot. My dry lot pony is fine with who ever but not sure about my other two.

Mare is in a mixed herd but a harder keeper and needs to be on grass.

Mixed herd of 3 geldings and 1 mare or should I just continue the search for a gelding?

I have a mixed herd . A single mare in with two geldings. The only minor problem is both geldings are in love with the mare. When either gelding is taken out of the pasture to ride, he is upset because the girl is left alone with his gelding buddy. By upset, I mean lots of whinnying and trying to keep his eyes on the pasture situation. If the mare is out to be ridden, the geldings are fine with each other. You won’t know the dynamics of yours until you try it.


Good news with a lease is that if mare makes turnout a nightmare you can send her back.

I’ve done mixed turnout at home before but always with mares plus one gelding but that was just chance.


I’ve never had luck with mixed herds. The geldings always get sweet on a mare and then become a nightmare to handle when the mare is out of sight. Over the fence seems okay, but I will always try to avoid mixed herds.

Honestly, I think I would pass on the free lease. I know it seems perfect otherwise, I’m just not convinced the risk of behavioral issues is worth it. If you could figure out how to get her on the dry lot with enough calories, then I would consider it.


I know a lot of people who do mixed herds with no problem. I have always had problems (as in my geldings fall head over heels in love with the mare) and its a nightmare for me to do anything with one of my boys. I will never do mixed turnouts. Just my $0.02

I must say the people/farms I know that do mixed turnouts, tend to have a lot of horses in the paddock (20 +) so perhaps they don’t get too bonded. I only have 5 geldings now, so when a mare was added, it was chaos. With no mares, my guys are totally fine being ridden or being in the barn alone. The ones in the paddock may call for his buddy from time to time, but the one I happen to be working, never cares and never responds, so it doesn’t bother me one bit.


As with all things, it depends on the horse(s). I’ve had many mares and geldings out together (from one gelding with one mare to a mixed group of ten or so) with zero issues, and I’ve also had the occasional gelding be super annoying about it. Only once have I encountered a gelding who had to be completely separated from all mares, and it was due to mounting and thus getting the ish kicked out him by the mare.

I would take the mare on a 30-day trial and see how they all do together. If it doesn’t work out, either send her back, or see if you can have her on 24/7 hay in the dry lot with the pony.


I agree with @mmeqcenter, it depends on the individuals. I’ve had my 2 geldings out with 1 mare, and then the 2 geldings with 2 mares. After an initial settling in period, everyone was fine, although the one gelding did get a bit attached to the mares. Then I brought in a 3rd mare and she’s a bossy rude little thing, and I have had to separate herds because she would boss around my old men too much. I don’t think it hurts to try and see how they all handle it. If your dry lot shares a fence line with your grass field then I would try doing introductions over the fence first and then try integrating the mare in with the 2 geldings.

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My mare was out with a gelding and they were totally fine with just the two of them, no issues with being herd bound etc but have also seen horses that don’t do so well with mixed turnout so it depends on the horses.

Is there any way that your friend’s horse could be moved to your place for a short period before the fall so then you can see if it would be feasible in terms of how everyone gets along with each other?

I’ve had one mare with three geldings. I took a few weeks to introduce them slowly (separate at first but a shared fence, then one gelding at a time in with the mare). They were perfectly fine, none of the geldings seemed to care one way or the other about having a mare with them. None of those geldings were very dominant so that might have helped.

My WB was raised in a mixed herd and never had issues, and his herd when I got him and moved him, had geldings and mares come in, no issues.

I moved him home with the real JB, and when JB died, I got a mare. Both were fine. A year or so later another gelding came into the mix, and while that gelding was a little possive of “his” mare, all was fine because Rio wasn’t interested in a fight.

Mare’s son was born, so 3 hims and 1 her, and still no issues.

Meaning - it has a lot more do with the personalities, than gender.


I have one bossy pants gelding and the other two are super chill. So it would probably be fine. I can keep the mare separated if needed while sharing a fence line. Just messes up my rotational pastures a bit.

I’m not going to take the mare but nothing to do with turnout situation. Totally appreciate y’all weighing in and advice given. When I look for horses for my kid, I’ll be open to looking at mares as well.


I’ve always had mixed herds with no issues (currently 2 mares, 1 gelding and previously 3 mares, 1 gelding) but there have been times when I’ve had 3 geldings with 1 or 2 mares and it’s still been fine (spoiler: it was always a mare in charge).


I have a mixed herd. No problems. Hierarchy establishes itself, everyone knows their place.


Mixed herd, no issues. It always takes a little bit of time for everyone to find their place, but that’s with any herd. I have one gelding who is particularly herd bound, but that happens with him with mares or geldings.


I was at a large barn for years. There usually were around 50 horses. Half were school horses who were outside 24/7. Most of the boarders were stalled at night. A few were on pasture board with the barn’s mares and geldings. They were side-by-side with an electric tape fence (not live) between them. They couldn’t have cared less. A couple of new horses came in, a mare and gelding on pasture board. They arrived at the end of the summer and hung out together by the fence for a few days. Then mare started going through the fence to hang out with the gelding. None of the geldings noticed anything. Nobody noticed execpt the people. Turns out the newbies were summer camp companions for years. The owner moved them to another barn where they could live together.

I have a mixed herd. I think attachment issues are HORSE related and not gender related. There’s some general conflict that can be mitigated by careful introductions and then everyone settles down.

I have a 2yo that doesn’t seem to have a lot of experience with being in a herd so she got kicked around a few times but finally seems to have gotten the idea that there is an order to the world and don’t mess with the boss mare or gelding.


I have always had mixed herds and never an issue. All depends on the personalities of each horse.

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Just one more person who has a mixed herd with no issues. I have my horses at home & really don’t have enough space to split by sex, not to mention there’s only one boy. So everyone needs to get along, and they do.


I’ll be a dissenter here. If you’ve only had geldings together there might be issues you’re not aware of. My gelding is not very dominant or very buddy dependent, however he’s been in with mares a couple of times. No one was hurt, but he mounted the mares. Obviously this falls into the “depends on the horses”, but for some horses mixed herds are a no-go.

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Are you sure he’s a gelding? A new instructor showed up with her gelding. After he spent couple of weeks in the round pen the BO put him out with the geldings. They ran him out of there within a half hour; he moved back to the round pen. They made a couple of more attempts but nothing changed. My horse was the alpha so I’d like to think he had good judgement. The horse owner wanted her horse turned out with other horses, not living alone. She didn’t tell anyone he wasn’t a gelding. He was a cryptorchid. A sterile stallion. Plenty of hormones, free of sperm. The errant testicle was deep in the abdomen so needed expensive surgery. Owner decided to put if off. It cost about the same as treating complications down the road so she decided to wait and spend the money then. She took her gelding to another barn. Life went back to normal.

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