Chestnut Mare, beware,’ the saying goes. Ginger girlies are famous — or infamous — for being a bit feisty. And opinionated. And grumpy. And did we mention opinionated? There are those who argue that this is nonsense, and that horses are just horses, whatever their colour.

But do they actually own a chestnut mare? Those of us who do may have experienced some or all of the following…

1. ‘Good luck!’ said in a sort of heartfelt way when you mention to anyone that you’re the proud owner of a redhead.

2. The way you feel slightly exasperated but also slightly proud that chestnut mares have got this reputation for being difficult — because yours is the apple of your eye. Yeah, she is MAYBE a bit difficult, but you just have to know how to handle her…

3. …Which is a mixture of not letting her push you around, and letting her think stuff is her idea, so she’ll actually do it with enthusiasm. To get the best out of your chestnut mare, it helps if you have mind-reading skills, a Machiavellian ability to manipulate, and a grim determination to get your own way. ‘Cos that’s exactly what she has.

4. The thought has crossed your mind that your horse is actually cleverer than you are.

5. Secret pride that your girl is always Alpha Mare in any field she’s turned out in….

6. …Even though that does mean that when the mares all break through the fence in to the geldings’ field, or one of them comes in with a bite mark, she’ll be named as the ringleader and you’ll get the blame.

7. That annoyed sigh she does when you make her do anything she’s not in the mood for — which, on some days, is basically everything.

8. The angry squeal if a mare or gelding she deems inferior to her comes too close. Again, this covers the majority of equines.

9. The knowledge that she will always keep you safe. Not deliberately, mind you — she will always keep herself safe, as she’s nothing if not a canny lass, and if you’re on her back, that protection extends to you.

10. The inexplicable love affairs she has for certain horses, that means she will protect them against all things — birds, blades of grass, other horses, their owners. Even if they don’t want her to.

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11. Then she decides she doesn’t actually like them and ignores them forever. Chestnut mares can be really fickle.

12. …But really loyal too. It often takes time, but if you’ve won over a ginger girlie, you know that your bond is the best. She’s got your back.

Don’t miss our feature about the science behind the chestnut mare stigma in today’s issue of Horse & Hound magazine (22 September 2016)

  • Laurel Hoare

    Maybe it is just my two who fit this mould or maybe, against bad advice, I let them have their personalities. God, have i been told i have been wrong. I stuck with my beliefs, let them come to me – one severely abused (16.3hh) one from a totally privileged life (17.1hh) – both genuine angels with standback understanding x

  • Laurel Hoare

    They are the best – wouldnt have anything else. I adore chestuts, i adore mares, i adore attitude and spirit xx

  • Sandra Tinker

    Agreed Hayley, I would understand this better if you took the word chestnut off the title, as this could be relevant to any mare, whatever her colour! I have a yard full of chestnut mares (two ridden and others to breed from) and I couldn’t disagree more with the ‘tag’ they have been given here – loyal, loving and affectionate in my experience 🙂

  • Hayley Dolby

    What a load of rubbish and quite unfair as those points could be attributed to any horse gender, colour or breed. I have had a chestnut mare for 19 yrs who was nothing like what is being portrayed here, but I have had other horses of different colours including geldings which are more similar to what is being said here, so what does that tell you?