A practice manager concerned by the onset of behavioural problems in her mare was shocked when vets diagnosed the equine as intersex.

Sally with Destiny.
Sally with Destiny.

Sally Allen of Hawkedon and Homefield Vets in Suffolk purchased ex-racehorse Destiny two years ago in the hope of showing her at dressage events and eventually breeding from her.

However, Ms Allen had just started working with the mare when she started displaying unusual behaviour.


Ms Allen explained: “In August 2015 she started bucking when I asked her to trot. I had her a year by then and hadn’t had any of those problems, and it was totally uncharacteristic of her.

Subsequent physiotherapy and veterinary visits attributed the issue to an inflammation in the lumbar region. However, there was no marked improvement months later.

“She was pooing in one area, which is very stallion-like behaviour… almost fighting with the gelding next door and sometimes greeting other horses in a stallion-like way. She was biting when you led her and playing about,” Ms Allen explained.

Searching for a solution

A vet arranged for a scan, believing the mare may have been suffering from a granulosa cell tumour. This did not prove to be the case, but the ovaries looked abnormal, so Destiny was referred for an operation.

“When they removed the ovary they felt it looked more like a testicle so they ran tests and confirmed that was what it was,” Ms Allen said.

Further investigation revealed the other ovary was a gonad too, and both were removed. Destiny also had no cervix and her uterus was not fully formed.


The news came as a big shock to her owner.

Ms Allen said: “Obviously, I bought her as a mare and hoped to breed a foal [from her] in the future for me to compete with, but that is now out of the question.

“She has had two operations and, subsequently, two incisions on both sides. I had planned to do a bit of showing with her, but that depends how they heal. The whole things been a bit of a shock and is very sad.”

Destiny has since had her check up and is on the road to recovery.

“When I got on her again she [felt like] a totally different horse. She was so chilled out and relaxed. There was no more bucking or nasty behaviour,” Ms Allen said.

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3 Comments on "Horse’s behaviour issues lead to intersex discovery"

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Linda smith
Linda smith
1 month 20 days ago

So there was a problem in the lumber region? Wood that explain the situation?

Vet Times
1 month 20 days ago

An amusing response to a shameful spelling error. Good spot – thanks. 🙂

Sally allen
Sally allen
22 days 21 hours ago
There was inflammation found in the lumbar region. We thought that was the reason for the bucking. But some months later when I was allowed to start working her again her behaviour had changed for the worse. She felt like a time bomb to sit on. I employed glen Morris of Morris and smith equine services to ride her as he was experienced with young thoroughbreds and working with behaviour problems. He agreed she was tricky to ride. There was some improvement but she was acting like a stallion. And being colts. I thought it was hormonal so asked one… Read more »

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