Last Updated on February 21, 2022 by Allison Price
The Chestnut mare is a troublemaker, regardless of breed. We can make a lot of funny memes about these horses, but what about the true story about “Hell has no fury like an Chestnut mare”? Can color affect behavior?
Beware of the Chestnut mare!
Since horse people have been around for so long, it has been said that a Chestnut mare can be described as a fiery redhead. They are known for being impulsive and unpredictable horses that can kick, bite, buck, and buck all the way.
It was fascinating to discover that the stereotype can be used in both directions after reading some horse forum. Some people agreed. Some people said they had a chestnut mare, and that the horse was unpredictable and mad. Many believed the stereotype so strongly that they refused to consider buying a Chestnut mare. Few people believed this was an indication of which breed their chestnut mare was. Most often, the fiery redhead was a Thoroughbred. Thoroughbreds can be very hot, and they were bred to do so. It makes sense that the stereotype would fit a Chestnut mare Thoroughbred.
This was interesting because it was more common in America. The phrase “beware the chestnut mare” was not used by more people from Switzerland who posted to the forum. This could be because there are more Chestnut horses that are not on the track in the United States. Thoroughbred racing in America is big business in the U.S.
The forum also identified Arabian Chestnut mares as supporting the myth. Quarter Horse owners disagreed with these stereotypes. Others stated that a Chestnut mare was their best horse!
Are stereotypes real or false? Although it’s hard to know for sure, one study offered some interesting insights:
Animal behavioral scientists were so intrigued by the notion that coat color and sex affect behavior, they conducted a study to disprove or prove it. Brandon Velie, University of Sydney , surveyed 477 Chestnut horses from different backgrounds and compared them to Bay horses. Velie assessed the behavior of the mares, including whether they were willing to approach, reacted negatively or bucked at strange objects.
Myth busted. Velie concluded after the survey that horse behavior was not affected by the horse’s coat color. The interesting thing about this study was that the Chestnut mares were more bold than the Bays. The Chestnut mares were more willing to approach an unknown object than the Bays when faced with it. This study has been published in Applied Animal Behavior Science Journal.
Despite these findings, it is still quite common to hear horses being called “a little crazy” in the horse community. No matter how much research is done, it’s likely that we will always associate Chestnut mares as having a fiery, short-tempered temperament. There were actually some Chestnut mares that were really bad at their jobs back then, giving these horses the reputation of being crazy fiery redheads. Aren’t all mares like that at one time?
Your opinion? Are you a believer in the truth of the stereotypes surrounding Chestnut mares? Comment below to let us know your thoughts!
I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!