Girl Horse Terms – What is a Filly and What is a Mare?

Newcomers to horse racing and riding may find the terminology difficult to comprehend; for example, female horses are known as fillies.

One way to distinguish a filly from male horses is the absence of penis and presence of teats; female foals will remain fillies until approximately five years of age.


Filly is a word used to refer to female horses under four years old. In racing circles, this term often refers to racehorses under five years of age – although filly can also refer to young donkeys, ponies, zebras and other forms of equidae that share its characteristics.

The term filly derives from Old Norse “fylja,” meaning to follow. Over time it became filli in Middle English and eventually shortened down to “filly,” still used today to refer to young female horses.

As they develop into mares, young fillies go through several significant transformations as they grow into women. First they become weanlings, then yearlings. Finally, they begin training for horse riding sports which helps develop both physical strength and mental agility.

Feeding young fillies healthy food is essential in the world of equine science; it will allow them to grow faster and have more energy, while good nutrition will ensure they remain disease-free and remain in top health.

Young fillies must be fed high-quality grains that are easily digested and provide enough calories for growth. Furthermore, providing them with vitamins and minerals will ensure they develop into strong individuals with robust bodies.


Colt is the term commonly used to refer to male foals that have not yet been castrated (gelded). Domesticated horses generally wait until four years old before beginning breeding activities, in order to prevent complications associated with sexual activity from developing and thus, any potential colts that remain are castrated (gelded).

Colts refer to young male animals aged five and younger that haven’t yet been castrated; this term can also refer to donkeys, mules and zebras. Young female animals under five are called fillies.

Colt is the term used to refer to male horses that have not yet been castrated at five years of age; many colts race as stallions at much younger ages than expected.

Recent studies disproved the popular notion that colts mature faster than female horses. Although studies do support this statement, it must still be acknowledged that colts do have an advantage when it comes to growth rates; especially if not gelded at an early age (which redirects growth toward different areas).


Once a female horse reaches four years of age, she becomes eligible for being designated a mare – meaning she has reached maturity and can produce foals. A mare may also be known as a broodmare and used specifically for breeding purposes.

Estrus, or the reproductive cycle of mares, typically lasts approximately 19-22 days every spring to autumn and is marked by high hormonal levels that may cause mood swings and unpredictable behavior in them. She can become cranky or difficult to handle. Therefore, during this period they should be kept stalled in a large clean stall with fresh bedding without seeing a stallion.

The term mare is commonly used to refer to adult female horses; however, some people use it for all equines regardless of gender. It is important to distinguish between mare, filly and stallion since each of these terms have specific meanings – stallion refers to an adult male horse with testicles while filly refers to young female horses.

Mares are strong yet graceful animals used for racing, dressage and show jumping – as well as companion horses due to their ability to bond deeply with their riders and form deep connections. The key to building trust with mares lies in building relationships while respecting her instinctual behaviors.


Stallions, male horses that have not been castrated, are commonly used for breeding purposes. Stallions require extensive care and attention in order to control both their libido and herd instincts as well as be trained to stand still when being stalled (caged).

Owners of stallions must pay an annual stud fee, giving one mare per season breeding rights. A stallion’s temperament varies based on genetics and training; its herd-oriented instinct can cause aggressive behaviors among other horses or towards humans.

Stallions tend to compete among themselves for dominance among herds of mares and their women breeders, and can become aggressive toward other animals in domestic settings such as dogs and cats. Due to this tendency, many stallions are kept in stalls where they only see and smell other horses through a grille or bar that divides stalls.

Girls who work with horses develop leadership skills by being responsible for the wellbeing of an 1,200 pound animal. They learn to negotiate and de-escalate horse behaviors like biting and kicking without increasing the risks involved. Riding horses also develops assertiveness and confidence among riders that help resist messages about diet culture that seek to profit off girls’ body dissatisfaction.

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