A mare is a female animal of the family of horses (equidae) and camels (camelidae). The male counterpart is a stallion. Moreover, the German word for mare (“Stuten”) also refers to currant yeast bread. It is a sweet, fluffy white bread made from wheat flour, water or milk, fat, sugar, yeast and salt, and is very famous in northern parts of Germany. It is common to add raisins, currants or almonds… And then, there are voices saying mares are for breeding, not for riding!
The history of tournaments tells a different story. Even today, Halla, the “wonder mare”, is still admired. Originally, the 1945 born Westphalia mare was trained to become a race horse. But as her enormous jumping power was discovered, she was used first as a military horse and later as a jumping horse. As she was difficult to ride and was regarded to be bitchy, many riders tried their luck with this mare but without success. In 1951, Hans Guenther Winkler took over. He was considered to be an ambitious talent on the scene. And soon they turned out to match very well. He won 128 jumping contests on that mare. World champion, Olympic champion, and many Grand Prix successes- Hans Guenther Winkler and Halla had been the most successful team in tournaments. The mare did even receive fan mail and sugar cubes sent to Warendorf, Germany, were it lived. After the Olympic Games in 1960 it abandoned riding sports and breeding started. It delivered eight foals, the first at the age of 16! On May 19, 1979 Halla died at the high horse age of 34 years. But still, it is one of the most famous horses in riding sports. A life-sized bronze statue was build to honor the so-called “wonder mare”, placed in Warendorf, Germany, the center of the German Equestrian Foundation and Olympic Training Center. Furthermore, no more tournament horse is allowed to be called “Halla”.
Same as with a stallion or gelding, it is the human being that needs to match with it, in order to be able to form a symbiotic relationship with a character horse, mares are no exceptions. In terms of History, mares are not inferior to stallions, either. We all know the anecdote of the mare “Copenhagen” – the animal did carry its rider commander Wellington on the battlefield for 15 hours without a break during the battle of Waterloo. When dying in 1836, it was buried with full military honors.
On the other side of the battlefield, Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte was riding the white horse Marengo. It died during the battles and was brought to London as a trophy by the English. Its bones can be still seen in the Military Museum there.