Difference Between Mare and Filly

For being in the horse world for so many years, one thing I have known is that you can not be sure about a particular equine term if you are a non-horse person because the names are quite confusing. 

Similarly, most people get confused between a mare and a filly. They find it very difficult to differentiate them.

And if you are here to know the difference between mare and filly, let me tell you that they both are the names of the same female horse. It’s just their age stages that differentiate both from each other.

Difference Between Mare and Filly

But before getting into that in detail, we need to know why these names are so confusing. And how even people differentiate them?

So let’s jump into that first.

Foal: Whether it’s a male or female horse, if the horse is one or less than one year, we call it a foal. And these foals get weaned at the age of five to seven months. And then we call it a weanling.

Yearling: A horse, irrespective of its gender, between the age of one to two years is called a yearling.

Colt: Colt is a term that is only used for male horses. A male horse under the age of four is considered a colt. So you can call a one-year-old male horse a colt.

Filly: Any female horse under the age of four is termed as a filly.

Mare: A female horse over the age of four is considered as a mare.

Stellion: A four years old or an older male horse that is non-castrated.

Gelding: A castrated male horse at any age.

But today, we are not here discussing any other horse but filly and mare. So the rest of this article will focus on how we can differentiate a filly and a mare.

What’s a Filly Horse?

A filly horse is a full-size female horse under the age of four. But there is also discourse in this regard. Because in the UK, people of the world of racetracks consider the age of filly under five. Not four. A filly is not capable of breeding. Though they become sexually mature at the age of two or three, they don’t breed until they reach five and stop growing. 

In the racing world, a filly is a female horse that is under the age of five. Young zebra, donkey, a pony is also referred to as filly in the world of racing. And as they don’t prefer riding a horse before the age of four, they never make a filly run a race. They take that as a training period. And horse trainers decide to train a filly because a filly is more intelligent than a colt. ( a female baby horse is a filly, and a male baby horse is a colt)

To be on the safest ground, we can consider a horse filly under the age of five.

What is a Mare?

A mare horse is nothing but an adult female horse that is more than four years old. Mare can breed at that age. When a filly stopped growing, we called that a mare. A mare can carry its young, that we call foals, for almost 11 months. And they will look after the foals for nearly six to seven months until the foal is weaned. The time of nursing the foal can be changed due to environmental issues. If the mare breeds in the wild, then the environment will be more threatening to the foal. And that will make the mare take care of her young for a bit longer. 

Mares are perfect as a racehorse for their reserved and easy to manage behavior. They are more prevalent in racetracks because they are more mature and courageous.

But when do you call a female horse broodmare? There is another confusion between mare and broodmare. But the thing is, we call a female horse a broodmare when she gives birth to at least one foal. A broodmare will give birth to at least one foal each year, and they can breed until they cross the age of twenty. So, when a mare gives birth to a new foal, we call her broodmare.

Filly VS Mare

  • The first thing that can help differentiate a filly and mare is their age. We have already discussed that a female horse under three to five is considered a filly. And the female horse more than three to five years is called a mare.
  • The filly is just a younger version of a mare. We know that they both are female horses. But in this case, only a mare can breed. Basically, it takes three to four years for a female horse to produce a foal. And a female horse can be pregnant when she stops growing. At the age these things happen, we consider that period of age as a mare. A filly can get sexually mature at the age of two, but they will still be growing at that age. So it is not possible for them to breed.
  • The filly is not appropriate for the race track. Though they can be trained at that age, they can not be ridden at that age. But they will be ridden only when they become a mare.

I hope you will not find it difficult to differentiate a young female horse and an adult female horse.

Final Thoughts:

The best suggestion comes from experiences. And as I have been in this world of horses for almost 12 years, it was my responsibility to assist you to know the right thing. So I tried to describe the easiest way to understand the differences between mare and filly.

I hope you will find this useful. Don’t forget to share your experiences with horses. Because your experience matters to us for our future endeavors of helping others by giving the exact information they are looking for from us.

Have a great day!

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