Horse Tips – equine sexes

I’m not trying to be sensational – this was a question asked of me by a sports journalist, and is not quite as obvious as it sounds.

You’ve heard of COLTS and FILLIES, but when does a colt stop being a colt and become a stallion?

As a rough guide, we talk about colt foals (males) and filly foals (females). As they grow through the stages of being weanlings (weaned from their mothers) at around 6 months, then become yearlings, then two year olds and three year olds, they are still colts and fillies. Unless the colt is gelded (castrated) in which case he becomes a GELDING whatever age he is. This may be done at any age from around yearling onward.

If destined to become a riding horse, three years is the normal age to start the backing process, and at this stage they become young MARES, geldings or STALLIONS.

Racehorses (flat racers) may be classified differently, as they start their ridden careers as yearlings, and races are between colts and fillies up to four years old.

You may also hear the term ENTIRE used – this generally applies to stallions (who are entire, i.e. haven’t had any bits removed!), although less commonly mares may also be classed as entire.

So now you should be able to classify your horse’s sex  correctly 😉



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