Are you a fan of horse racing? Do you often wonder about the gender of the horses you see on the tracks? Well, you’re not alone.
As a popular and thrilling sport, horse racing has been around for centuries. However, one question that often arises in the minds of many is whether racehorses are male or female. And this makes sense.
Because understanding the gender differences in racehorses can provide insight into their performance and potential and help to appreciate the sport even more.
Let’s look at the differences between male and female racehorses and explore how they affect their performance. But before going deeper, let’s first answer the question,
Are racehorses male or female?
The truth is racehorses can be male or female, and both genders have unique advantages. However, male horses tend to be more.
While male horses are often stronger and faster, female horses have also been known to possess more stamina and endurance.
The gender disparity in horse representations also makes one wonder, is it the same for the riders? What is the general representation of female and male riders in this sport? This idea brings us to the next question that as well needs answers,
The demographics of horse riding vary greatly depending on the location, discipline, and level of competition.
However, statistics show that in most countries, women are more likely to participate in horse riding activities than men.
This trend is particularly evident in recreational riding and equestrian disciplines such as dressage and show jumping.
Despite the growing number of female riders, men still dominate certain areas of horse riding. For instance, male jockeys are more common in horse racing in some countries than female jockeys.
Additionally, male riders tend to participate more in Western riding disciplines such as rodeo and bull riding.
In the world of horse racing dominated by males, a handful of noteworthy female horses have shattered this stereotype by achieving remarkable success. They include;
Personal Ensign was a remarkable mare who achieved a rare feat in horse racing. She won every race she ever entered and finished her career with an impressive record of 13 victories out of 13 contests.
She left an indelible mark on the sport as the first undefeated racing horse to retire in American history.
Her final race in 1988 was memorable and is still regarded as one of the most spectacular in Breeders Cup records.
Personal Ensign’s success extended beyond her racing career, and she became a successful broodmare.
Her daughter won a Breeders Cup race, while her grandson War Emblem went on to win the prestigious Kentucky Derby.
Zenyatta, often hailed as the Queen of Racing made history in 2009 by becoming the first mare to win the Breeders’ Cup.
Though she lost the following year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic to Blame, Zenyatta’s record speaks for itself with 19 wins out of 20 races, earning over $7 million.
Her impressive performance earned her the American Horse of the Year title in 2010. At almost 18 years old, Zenyatta has retired from racing but continues contributing to the horseracing world through her offspring.
Ruffian was a dominant force during the 1970s, winning ten races and excelling at any distance. Her most notable achievement was winning the Triple Tiara series, which solidified her status as one of the greatest female racehorses ever.
Ruffian’s impressive speeds set a new record in each race, often beating her opponents by over eight lengths.
However, her career ended abruptly when she suffered a catastrophic injury at Belmont Park, shattering a bone and causing severe damage.
Despite attempts to save her, Ruffian was euthanised the same night, marking the tragic end of her remarkable career.
Male horses are generally faster than female horses, and this phenomenon has several reasons.
Male horses have larger hearts and lungs than females, which allows them to pump more oxygen-rich blood to their muscles.
Additionally, male horses have longer and thicker bones in their legs, which helps to provide more leverage and power when running.
Testosterone is a hormone that is responsible for muscle growth and development. Male horses naturally produce higher levels of testosterone.
This gives them an advantage in developing stronger, more powerful muscles, which translates to greater speed and endurance on the racetrack.
The volume of adult female horse lungs is typically 10-12% smaller than that of a male horse of the same height and age.
They can take in more air with each breath, allowing them to maintain their speed for longer.
Male horses are often trained more extensively than females from a young age. This training includes building their muscles through exercise and conditioning their bodies to handle the physical demands of racing.
As a result, male horses are better prepared for the rigours of racing and can run faster and for longer periods than females.
Genetics also plays a crucial role in determining how fast a horse can run. Male horses typically inherit the genes for speed from their parents.
For example, if the sire and dam were fast racehorses, their offspring would also be fast. This genetic predisposition towards speed is one of the reasons why male horses tend to be faster than females.
Male horses are naturally more aggressive than females, giving them an advantage on the racecourse. This aggressiveness can lead to more intense training and conditioning, further increasing their speed and stamina.
Castration, the process of removing the testicles of male animals, is a common practice in the equine industry.
One of the primary reasons for castrating male horses is to control their behaviour. Stallions can be aggressive and difficult to handle, especially around other horses.
Castration can help reduce the horse’s testosterone levels, making them calmer and easier to handle. And This makes them more suitable for use as riding or working horses.
Another reason for castrating male horses is medical reasons. Some male horses may develop testicular tumours or other reproductive system issues that require castration for treatment. Castration can also prevent certain types of cancer from developing in male horses.
You should carefully evaluate several factors before deciding to proceed with the procedure. You should also seek a veterinarian’s advice to help determine whether or not to geld a horse.
One of the most important factors is the age of the horse. The ideal age for gelding a horse is six months and two years old. Gelding a horse at a young age is less risky and results in a quicker recovery.
A veterinarian should examine the horse thoroughly before performing the surgery. In case of an unwell horse or an abnormal physical examination, it is advisable to postpone the surgery.
Before administering anaesthesia to the horse, it is crucial to ensure the presence of both testicles in the scrotum.
In some cases, only one testicle may have descended, leading to the classification of such horses as cryptorchids.
Gelding such horses can be complex since opening the abdominal cavity to retrieve and remove the undescended testis may be required.
Gelding can have an impact on a horse’s performance abilities. For example, a stallion may have more stamina and strength than a gelding due to the testosterone levels in its body.
However, in some cases, gelding can improve a horse’s performance by making them more focused and easier to train.
If there are any plans to breed the horse, it’s best not to geld it. The gelding is a permanent procedure and irreversible.
If breeding is desired in the future, it’s best to wait until after breeding before performing the surgery.
It is advisable to refrain from gelding colts in wet weather as the probability of wound contamination and infection escalates in such wet and muddy conditions.
Waiting for cooler weather to conduct the procedure is recommended to mitigate this increased risk. This approach minimises the risk of wound contamination and reduces the possibility of flies laying maggots in the wound.
Are racehorses male or female? While male horses have historically dominated the racing industry, the tide is shifting, and more female racehorses are making their mark.
It is important to understand that gender does not solely determine a horse’s ability to excel in racing. Each horse possesses unique qualities that contribute to their racing prowess.