Q&A: Single sex turnout

  • Q. I have three mares and a friend is going to be keeping her two geldings in livery at my yard from this spring. All the horses will go out all day. Some experts say you shouldn’t turn mares and geldings out together. Should I separate them using electric fencing (I only have one six-acre field), or should I just try them together and see what happens?

    Kate Skirrow, yard manager at Oaklands College, answers: I prefer to keep mares and geldings in separate fields, as this tends to limit problems such as geldings fighting for dominance and flirting mares.

    Also, if your mares have lived happily in a small herd, and the geldings have bonded, it may be tempting fate to try to put them all in together!

    As you have ample grazing for all five horses, I would recommend you divide the field into two with electric fencing. Ideally you should have two rows of electric fencing with a corridor of two to three metres in between, so the horses can see each other and communicate without contact.

    If you do decide to put the horses together, the next step is to remove one strand of the fencing, so the horses can touch one another over the fence. This is the time to watch out for any aggressive behaviour, and also to ensure that the power to the fence is strong – many horses are injured by poor electric fences.

    Give the horses a few weeks with this degree of contact and, if you don’t experience any problems, remove the divide. Keep a watchful eye for signs of individuals being picked on, and don’t be afraid to go back to a divided field if problems arise.

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