After weeks of news on a female track athlete's gender testing and associated scandal regarding officials' handling of the issue, it's timely to point out improved testing for racehorses is also uncovering a few surprises in the starting gates – including some fillies and mares reclassified as horses after hormone levels revealed that were carrying some extra anatomical baggage.

Earlier this year we covered the case of Arizona Helen, a Standardbred pacing mare reclassified as a horse after a testosterone test and subsequent physical exam.

According to Nicole Kraft, communications director/Hoof Beats executive editor, U.S. Trotting Association, the blood and tissue testing revealed that Arizona Helen had XY chromosomes, "so she was a genetic male who had malformed external genitalia. She is a pseudo-hermaphrodite."

Behavioral clues and the erstwhile mare's physique completed the puzzle (Kraft described Arizona Helen as "built more like an East German female athlete than a belly dancer.")

Now a horse sporting the moniker Martha Maxine can trade stories with Helen. Sign on San Diego reports he's now started four times since being reclassified as a horse after winning 13 races as a female last year.

Martha Maxine has normal female genitalia, but also has testicles inside his abdomen – if not for steroid tests, it's unlikely his status would ever have been known.

As hormone tests continue, I'm sure we'll be hearing more of these stories. In the meantime, can we pick some gender neutral names?  


Being the owner of a gray horse well on his way to white, purple shampoo is a staple of my bathing kit. Another white horse is also due for a spruce-up, but will require a bit more sacrifice than stained hands.

The Alton Barnes white horse of Wiltshire, UK, an image of a horse carved into a hill in 1812, is due for a new layer of chalk before its bicentenary in 2012, BBC News reports.

But it's not as simple as trundling up the hill with some chalk – because the horse is on protected land, a helicopter will be used to deliver the £21,000 supply.

BBC News noted:

"The Alton Barnes horse has a troubled past. The original contractor John Thorne, who was paid to design and create the horse by local farmer Robert Pile, ran off with the money before the carving was completed. Thorne was later hanged for other crimes."

Read more and see a photo.