Keeping and Using Stallions
 By Winniefield Park   •   10th Jun 2018   •   739 views   •   0 comments
There are a lot of myths about stallions. Some people believe only men should handle stallions. Many think they are more majestic, noble and wild than mares and geldings. Most of us take for granted that you donít turn a stallion out with another stallion. And some think they need to stay separate from any other horse. But, are any of these things true?

In The Wild
Feral horses that exist in many parts of the world live much like wild horses would have. There is a hierarchy within the family group that usually consists of dominant mares and one or possibly two stallions. In some groups there may be a lead mare, but in others there is not. There is often a satellite herd of young bachelor stallions. And, the rest of the main herd consists of mares and their offspring. It appears that the exact composition of these family groups is different in different parts of the world. The amount of aggression stallions have towards each other seems to depend on the resources they have. Lots of food, lots of space to roam in, and lots of mares means there may be very little aggression within the groups. Even between separate groups, there seems to be little aggression if they happen to cross paths. When the resources are more scarce, stallions may become more aggressive, but any shows of aggression are often not horrific fights to the death.

How stallions live in a natural setting is a far cry from how we in North America and a few other parts of the world keep them. Here, stallions are usually kept away from mares except for breeding purposes. In fact, they may be kept secluded from all other horses. For many stallions life is solitary confinement, broken only by brief trips to the breeding shed. Some stallions are used in competition and therefore have more exposure to other horses although still in very artificial circumstances. Show horses at the upper levels of competition are often kept separate from others whether they are mares, geldings or stallions. A lucky few stallions get to live in a herd in a pasture, but this isnít common. The risk of injury, unwanted breedings, and other considerations means that stallions are more likely to be kept cosseted in their stalls or pens.

Stallions kept in isolation may act out and be difficult to handle. Stallions do have a tendency to be dominate, and anyone, male or female, handling a stallion needs to be aware of this at all time. Even a well behaved stallion can be more difficult, and sometimes even dangerous in breeding season, or around a mare in heat.

There are circumstances where stallions are kept together, or kept with geldings. If you have visited tourist destinations in the Caribbean and similar locations, you might have noticed that stallions are routinely penned together and when working, used to carry tourists and other loads. For economic reasons, horses are not gelded. The horses work hard and live peaceably.

The idea that stallions can live together is supported by research completed in 2014. Eight stallions were gradually introduced to each other, first over stall walls, and then slowly put into a pasture together. Researchers observed that the horses did a lot of posturing that showed off their prowess, but after a few days, the stallions live quietly together. There were few injuries and none serious.

Most of us have learned that you donít ever take a stallionís good behaviour for granted. They are not recommended to beginner riders or children. But there are places where that happens. In some European and Asian countries, stallions are routinely ridden by youngsters and beginners. Certainly in Mongolia, children ride stallions. Mongolians donít ride mares and they donít geld stallions. In some dressage stables, children ride stallions. The environment is very controlled and the horses extremely well trained. For the most part however, stallions are a poor choice for beginners or children. Anyone who handles a stallion must know how to keep its attention and deal with any bad behaviour safely.
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