Stallions Are Just Horses

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There are definitely dangerous horses of both sexes, and the re-education of any horse that has been abused or learned he’s “boss” isn’t something to be undertaken by someone inexperienced, especially if the horse is a stallion. While it’s not always true, most dangerous horses are made, not born, nasty.

In fact, a properly handled and managed stallion is the epitome of everything a horse should be, alert, responsive and interactive. But it’s the “properly handled and managed” part that gets people into trouble, not the basic nature of a stallion.

Stallions have a high level of alertness. Nothing escapes them. You must approach a stallion from a position of authority. Stallions often delight in menacing someone they sense is not experienced. In many instances, this is truly a game, albeit a dangerous one that can get out of control.

When you approach a stallion, get his attention using a calm, no-nonsense attitude. Frequent verbal corrections and light shank snatchings are often needed to remind them that their attention needs to be focused on you. Your movements should be strong and purposeful. You should never turn away and always keep a stallion in your field of vision, as he’ll be watching to make sure you do.

Most actual encounters between mature stallions are settled without coming to blows. They carefully size each other up, and most are smart enough to realize when to back off. A stallion will do the same with you, quickly noting any weaknesses or fears you may have. However, the “new guy” will always be fair game, and few stallions can resist.

But even with their regular handlers, stallions will sometimes press their luck, usually beginning with series of little disobediences. It may start with pushing back when you attempt to move them to the side, rushing when being led, half rears or even some ear pinning. While this could just be a grumpy day, you must be attuned to it escalating and correct him immediately. It’s a mistake to ignore a show of defiance. You also shouldn’t over-react to the problem.

If the resistance occurs when working on the horse, switch from a plain shank to a chain over the nose, or from a chain over the nose to a chain through the mouth. The switch alone will stop the problem for many stallions. For others, you may actually have to use it once or twice. Remember, though, that this behavior is a test to see if you react with authority. If you do, the horse usually backs off.

Ignoring subtle warnings until the behavior escalates to the point where the horse is really out of line, then deciding to “show him who’s boss” by beating him, is a mistake. Strong physical reprimands are sometimes needed, but beating is never justified. It also causes the stallion to mark the handler as an enemy, rather than a figure to be respected.

Finally, exercise is extremely important in keeping the stallion healthy in general and helping him get rid of excess energy. He should be turned out or ridden daily.