Last Updated on January 24, 2022
You probably have noticed that several different terms are in use to describe a horse, which is pretty confusing, so what is a filly horse mean? The filly is one of the more confusing descriptive horse terms as it only applies to horses of a certain age. Here we will explain this term, so you will have no problem understanding it in the future.
What Does The Term Filly Horse Mean?
Filly is a generic term for a female horse. It is only applicable for females, so when you hear it, you won’t have to wonder about the horse’s gender. However, filly is only applicable for female horses up to the age of three.
When a horse is born, it is a foal. Foal applies to all baby horses up to the age of one, whether it is female or male. If the foal is a female, you can also call it a filly. If you hear the word filly, you will know that horse is age three or younger.
Another term you might hear is filly foal. If you hear filly foal, the horse is under the age of one. The word filly is the same whether the equine in question is a pony, horse, or miniature.
What Is A Male Foal
If the foal is a male, it is a colt. Colt is only applicable if the foal is male. Like filly, colt applies until the horse turns four. However, if you castrate a colt, it is then a gelding.
What Is An Older Female Horse
When a female horse turns four, it is no longer a filly. The correct term to use is now mare. All-female horses are mares, and the word is never used to describe a male. You might hear the word broodmare.
This word describes a certain type of female horse. A broodmare is a female horse that does not compete but has a career inbreeding. Many high-quality mares retire from racing or competition to become broodmares.
Broodmare brings us to another female horse term, dam. Dam refers to the mother of a horse. For example, someone might say who is the dam of your horse?
They are asking who is the mother of your horse. Grand dam refers to a horse’s grandmother. When making breeding decisions and looking at pedigrees, the dam and grand dam are important.
Origin Of The Word Filly
The origins of the word filly are not exactly clear, but it is likely that it came into existence around the start of the 15th century. There are two possibilities for the English version. One is that it comes from the Old Norse word for a female foal, fylja.
Another possibility is the Proto-Germanic word fuljo. The spelling of filly originally was fyly or filli.
Facts About Female Horses
- The gestation time for pregnant mares is 11 months. On average, a mare will foal at between 330 to 345 days. However, they can foal as late as 365 days.
- All foals pre-birth, do most of their growing in the last three months of gestation.
- During pregnancy, a mare will gain between 130 to 165 pounds, the majority of this during the last three months.
- Most mares will foal at night when their natural instinct tells them it is safer with the cover of darkness.
- Mares have 36 teeth, which is less than a male horse’s 40 teeth.
- When a foal is born, its hooves have ‘golden slippers’. This is a soft tissue that protects the mare’s birth canal as the foal is born. They are completely gone within 24 hours after birth.
- When born, a filly foal is usually quicker than a colt to get the hang of nursing.
- In racing, the term filly stays with the horse until it turns five, instead of four.
- It is possible for a filly to get pregnant as young as fourteen months old. However, it is not advisable as she is still developing and a baby herself.
Learn about Foals Nursing and What They Eat
For some more amazing facts about horses, check out this cool video.
What’s A Filly Conclusion
Hopefully, you will easily understand the word filly every time you hear it now. The easiest way to remember is that a filly is always a female horse. Then, if you can remember, that it is always a young female horse.
If you are still unsure when you hear the term filly, don’t hesitate to ask how old the horse is. You can get away with this question without sounding like you lack knowledge, as a filly is anything from one hour old to four years old.
Michael Dehaan is a passionate horse owner, horse rider, and lover of all things equine. He has been around horses since he was a child, and has grown to become an expert in the field. He has owned and ridden a variety of horses of different breeds, and has trained many to compete in shows and competitions. He is an experienced horseman, having worked with and competed many horses, including his own. He is an active member of the equestrian community, participating in events and teaching riding lessons.