Stallions are animated, vital creatures that awe and intrigue us. And whether we're new to horses or have years of experience, most of us understand that stallion ownership is a step above and beyond mare or gelding ownership because of the additional responsibilities caring for a stallion entails.
Veterinarians and breeding managers generally attribute the escalated behavior seen in stallions to increased testosterone levels. Of course, there are some exceptionally tractable stallions that are either born with calm dispositions or have been very well trained and maintained. But given the "nature of the beast," personality conflicts between horses and humans tend to be amplified when a stallion is involved.
The demands a stallion can make on his owner's time, patience and pocketbook can be overwhelming. Though finding a stallion with whom we are compatible may never be as easy as perusing the personals, you should follow some basic principles when considering stallion ownership.
Dr. Khris Crowe, director of veterinary services and breeding manager at Babcock Ranch in Gainesville, Texas, has worked with stallions for more than 25 years. Her experience has taken her into the top breeding barns around the country. In those 25 years she has learned much about stallion behavior.
"They've all got their personalities," she says, "and they range in how passive or aggressive they are." But one thing stands out. "No matter what the breed, stallions are first and foremost breeding machines. That's what they are here to do. That is the agenda of the stallion, to find a mare and breed. It is written on their souls, and you must never forget it is there."
Your Own Attitude
Before taking on the responsibility of stallion ownership, an individual should have some knowledge of horses and horse behavior. That doesn't mean that a novice can't have a great deal of success in dealing with a stallion. It just means, as Crowe explains it, that you "need to know the warning signs of an angry or irritated horse. Most horses will be honest and signal where they are and what they are going to do."