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  1. #1
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    Default Handling Stallions

    Ok, I'm turning to the experienced folks on this board for advice. I'm in the process of leasing a 14 year old stallion that has been used for breeding and riding. I'm only going to be riding and showing him, no breeding. He will be kept with my trainer who is very experienced at handling stallions. I've been told that he's a very easy stallion to handle and deal with.

    HOWEVER, this will be my first time working with a stallion. I feel like there are lots of things that I just don't know about them! What tips do you all have to help me not screw up this amazing horse? His current owner has been giving me some advice about how to handle him, but I just feel so naive.

    What would you tell someone new to handling stallions? What should I do or not do with him?

    Again, just to be clear, I will have lots of help with this horse, but I figured more knowledge can't hurt.
    Thanks in advance!



  2. #2
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    The biggest thing is to treat him like a horse and not a dragon. If you treat him like a horse, he will act like a horse, but if you treat him like a dragon....well.... A stallion shouldn't ever be allowed to step out of line with people.....EVER. Keep that in mind. He shouldn't get studdy unless breeding, no talking, any of that. I shut that down immediatley with a shake of chain and a growl, 'no talking'. If he is mannerly, that is all it should take. Don't tolerate nipping, pinning ears, kicking, threatening to kick, etc. Same as any horse.
    When I am handling my stallion I like to think of myself as the boss mare. The boss mare keeps the stallion in line. That is exactly how he should percieve you. Once you have that respect, you can be the best of friends. They are ALOT of fun, enjoy him, it is great you will have lots of help, and that he is older and experienced. You should learn a whole lot from him. Enjoy!



  3. #3
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    I agree w/ cheekyhorse. I expect the same from any horse regardless of gender and my crew is well aware of my alpha mare status. My stallion is 7yo and I raised him so we have a dang good bond. We respect each other and he has wonderful manners. Although he's not very stallion-like (most don't know he is one until they look) I'm always aware that he is and keep my guard up whenever I'm handling him. Our size differences come into play, too. I look like a little kid next to him, so he could easily fling me w/ a quick turn of his head if he wanted, but he knows better. He's 1800+ lbs and I'm 115 lbs. We're like mutt and jeff.

    One thing about them is they like to drop and will masterbate quite regularly if they're happy and relaxed. Don't punish him for this normal stallion behavior unless he's acting studdy and you're handling him. But if you're just grooming, talking to him, petting, etc and he drops, leave him be.

    It sounds like your "new" stallion has a solid foundation and will definitely teach you a lot.

    Stallions are great!!
    A Merrick N Dream Farm
    Proud Member of "Someone Special to me serves in the Military" Clique



  4. #4
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    Thanks for the info! I think you're right about treating him like a horse. On the other hand, I don't want to make stupid mistakes and let him develop bad habits.
    It sounds like the biggest thing is to always remain aware that he is a stallion and that I have to keep the boundaries more clear for him than for most horses. Does that sound correct?
    His owner mentioned that he does like to rub his head on you and that I shouldn't let him because he's not being cuddly, he's establishing dominance. It's the things like that that I worry about not knowing.
    Anyway, I'm sure with all the help I'll be fine. I'm really looking forward to the opportunity to ride and show him. He's a really nice horse!



  5. #5
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    The posters above have given excellent suggestions. I would add that when you first get him, to have the horse at the owner's farm for a week or so and have her show you how to handle him.

    Stallions are horses and should be treated as such. However, if he's a smart cookie he will check in to see who's at the other end of the lead line. If he senses that the person is clueless, then he will "test" to see if the person really is clueless. If his test is validated, then he will move the boundaries of behavior until you no longer have a well-behaved horse.

    It is only normal. What you need to know is to clearly know what is allowed and what is not allowed. The fact that you are posting on this BB indicated a lack of confidence about handling stallions. The horse will pick up on this. Best to have the owner calibrate you so you can have clear expectations on what the horse is allowed to do or not do.

    It is only fair to the horse, so that you keep the same routine he had at home and the same level of expectations are maintained while he is in your care.



  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by WombatCA View Post
    Thanks for the info! I think you're right about treating him like a horse. On the other hand, I don't want to make stupid mistakes and let him develop bad habits.
    It sounds like the biggest thing is to always remain aware that he is a stallion and that I have to keep the boundaries more clear for him than for most horses. Does that sound correct?
    His owner mentioned that he does like to rub his head on you and that I shouldn't let him because he's not being cuddly, he's establishing dominance. It's the things like that that I worry about not knowing.
    Anyway, I'm sure with all the help I'll be fine. I'm really looking forward to the opportunity to ride and show him. He's a really nice horse!
    Ditto treat him like any other horse. Stallions are generally more sensitive to over correction and will fight back if treated unfairly (overccorected for an infraction) so be firm but not harsh. Boomer, my previous stallion, just loved his head scritched and would rub it on me and I did not correct that. I scratched his head....but if his owner does not want that behavior encouraged then follow her wishes. Every once in an while with Boomer the head rubbing for a scritch would morph into more aggressive SHOVING and he did get corrected for that. Other folks covered stuff well above.



  7. #7
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    Another thing to watch when you're out & about - mare owners.

    Many mare owners don't understand stallion behavior & will pass the backside of a mare-in-season under his nose in the schooling ring without a 2nd thought.

    My guess is a well-schooled & handled 14 y.o. stallion will have been there/done that and understands he is not to react - but it would be worth asking his owner what strategies work best with this stallion, in situations where there are unthinking mare owners [or even a loose horse].



  8. #8
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    Treat him like a horse and not a puppy. No matter how gentle he is don't play with his mouth (stallions are very orally fixated), don't allow any passive aggressive behavior like rubbing you with his head or leaning into you, it could easily turn into a dominating behavior once he knows he can push you around. Always maintain your own personal space... he has his and you have yours. The last trainer I worked with (who has a tremendous relationship with all of the horses he works with, but above all the stallions, I think he has something like 20 stallions at his barn in training) was adamant about not letting a stallion drop while you are handling him (grooming/working in hand/etc.), it is a sexual gesture and he should be reprimanded (usually a stern voice cue will get the job done)... (breeding time is different).


    \"For all those men who say, \"Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free,\" here\'s an update for you: Nowadays 80% of women are against marriage. Why? Because women realize it\'s not worth buying an entire pig just to get a little sausage.\"-



  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sakura View Post
    ... was adamant about not letting a stallion drop while you are handling him (grooming/working in hand/etc.), it is a sexual gesture and he should be reprimanded (usually a stern voice cue will get the job done)... (breeding time is different).
    Deal with the behavior NOT the penis. Ignore the penis. I say it again and again and again. While it may be an indication that a stallion is not focused on the task at hand, the penis does NOT have mind of its own (although there are times when it may seem that way). For example, many stallions will drop when they are relaxed and comfortable - and notice there is a difference between dropping and a full erection - not unusual during grooming, or when standing quietly. Punishing a horse simply because he's dropped is unfair.

    I use the analogy of dealing with a teenage boy. If he's sitting quietly on the front lawn watching the cheerleaders across the street practice and you come upon him and notice he has an erection, would you punish him? Of course not - at least not unless you're competing for the "Mommy Dearest" award. However, if you come upon him standing on the front lawn with a raging erection, screaming at the girls to "Take your shirts off! Show us some..." (you get the picture) You would probably grab the kid by the ear and drag him inside for a Come to Jesus session.

    Always be aware that a stallion "is" a stallion and they are hard wired sexually.

    Hope that helps!

    Kathy St.Martin
    Equine Reproduction Short Courses
    http://www.equine-reproduction.com



  10. #10
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    With all due respect Kathy, I have to disagree to an extent. A stallion should know that there is a time and place for certain behavior. Sure the teenage boy analogy fits to a degree, however if the school principal walked by and the boy had his hands in his pants that changes things a bit. My stallion can drop and do his thing all he wants out in the pasture while gazing at the mares or alone in his stall to his little heart's desire, but if I am standing him up in front of a judge he is going to know that it is not the time or place to produce an erection.


    \"For all those men who say, \"Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free,\" here\'s an update for you: Nowadays 80% of women are against marriage. Why? Because women realize it\'s not worth buying an entire pig just to get a little sausage.\"-



  11. #11
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    I have proof that Kathy is quite right.

    I purchased one of my stallions as a 2 1/2 year old and the previous owner had punished this young horse so badly when he dropped (using a crop, no less) that whenever he dropped he'd pin his ears, kick at his penis and start to bite at his legs. I was sure he was on the way to becoming a self mutilator. To beat the sexuality out of a young stallion when he is showing no sexual aggression toward the handle is innately unfair. And stallions in particular have a real sense of fairness. It took months for him to understand that it was okay to drop and "think about girls" even in his own stall without his human-induced neurotic behavior. Whenever I'd see him drop, I'd look in his stall and say "good boy" and walk away. I became especially pleased when he gained such trust (it took years) to be able to drop while being groomed totally relaxed, sleepy and happy.

    This is a very alpha stallion with a VERY high libido. Once he was in work and might get distracted and drop and puff, we'd jump him! That "inspired" him to put it away (grin!). Never had a problem at shows because we did a lot of working at home with mares in sight so we could train him to stay focused.

    My homebred stallion, having never been punished for dropping, has never, ever been an issue at all.

    Frankly, I think stallion penises scare control freaks and those who don't take the time to understand the stallion psyche.



  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sakura View Post
    The last trainer I worked with (who has a tremendous relationship with all of the horses he works with, but above all the stallions, I think he has something like 20 stallions at his barn in training) was adamant about not letting a stallion drop while you are handling him (grooming/working in hand/etc.), it is a sexual gesture and he should be reprimanded (usually a stern voice cue will get the job done)... (breeding time is different).
    Not everone agrees but not ALL dropping is a sexual gesture....I will disagree there. If he drops because he is relaxed while grooming there is nothing sexually aggressive about it. Geldings do that. Both geldings and stallions drop when relaxed out in the field. To me there is a huge difference between dropped because he is relaxed (where I ignore it) and dropped because he is erected/calling/sees a mare.....whole nuther ball of wax. When Boomer did THAT he was taught to back up , lower his head and I yelled at him "not for you". THAT carried over well under saddle. WHen a mare owner or kid would park a mare next to him at a clinic and his head came up/started to snort I yelled at him "not for you" and he would drop his head and back up. You will have to ask his owner if there is a particular cue the stallion you are using has been taught for such situations.



  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sakura View Post
    With all due respect Kathy, I have to disagree to an extent. A stallion should know that there is a time and place for certain behavior. Sure the teenage boy analogy fits to a degree, however if the school principal walked by and the boy had his hands in his pants that changes things a bit.
    BIG difference. Inappropriate behavior. His focus is definitely not where it should be. However, if he was standing there, listening intently to the instructor, but had the misfortune to experience what most young males - regardless of species - do, it would be incredibly unfair to reprimand him for the betrayal of his body.

    My stallion can drop and do his thing all he wants out in the pasture while gazing at the mares or alone in his stall to his little heart's desire, but if I am standing him up in front of a judge he is going to know that it is not the time or place to produce an erection.
    If he's standing their with a raging erection, he's obviously not focused on the task at hand. And, as I have noted again and again - deal with the behavior NOT the erection. If he's standing their with a raging erection but is totally focused, behaving appropriately and is responding to all of your aids and requests, ignore it.

    As a stallion gets older, they learn where and when an erection will be "rewarded" and learn that all other times, there's just no point to it. Unfortunately, we get to deal with a multitude of stallions that are treated unfairly and then the owners bring them to us to try and get them to collect <sigh>. Humans tend to have unrealistic expectations of stallions and often they are handled extremely heavy handed and unfairly (NOTE:!!! I am NOT excusing anyone here of that behavior - just acknowledging and explaining that it occurs far too often). Most of us here have seen the equine penis and it's nothing unusual or to be feared. Most judges have seen one, as well. But I do think that there tends to be too much focus placed on the penis and not enough on the actual behavior and often with unfair and unrealistic expectations. Stallions are NOT stupid and usually figure out pretty darn quickly what is an isn't a sexual situation. Consistency, being fair and having realistic expectations will go a long way to having a happy, well-adjusted, manageable stallion.

    I'll be the first to reprimand a stallion that is not focused on the task at hand and is behaving in a sexual manner when he's under saddle. However, if I'm sitting on a stallion, talking with someone on another horse, everyone's relaxed and enjoying the moment and the boy merely drops, unless he starts puffing up, nickering and behaving inappropriately while he's got his clothes on, I ignore it completely. There's a whole lot less tension when I'm handling stallions if they know that they're not going to get reprimanded for relaxing!

    We've worked with the stallion Susan is describing in her post. The first time I came near him, he definitely was agitated and worried that I wasn't going to be a kind and understanding handler. And, by being unfair to stallions such as Susan's you stand the very real potential of creating an animal that will be downright dangerous in sexual situation because they fear that their going to be punished for their behavior. Or, you'll end up with a stallion that will just flat out not drop. What would be the point? In their minds, they're just going to be punished for the behavior anyway!

    So while I understand where you are coming from, Michelle, and I acknowledge that there are stallions out there that can be reprimanded for dropping and it has no deleterious effect on them, I can assure you, from handling literally thousands of stallions over the years, it "does" have a negative impact on a high percentage of them. Ignore the penis and deal strictly with the behavior and you will find that you have a much saner, better behaved and trusting animal in ALL situations.

    Hope that helps clarify things a bit more.

    Kathy St.Martin
    Equine Reproduction Short Courses
    http://www.equine-reproduction.com



  14. #14
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    Excellent post Kathy! I wish everyone that has contact with stallions got that memo.
    This is so important to realize:
    There's a whole lot less tension when I'm handling stallions if they know that they're not going to get reprimanded for relaxing!

    When my young stallion was ready to go to shows, the first thing the trainer asked me was "whip or alcohol?" I had no idea what he was talking about. He clarified by asking, "when he drops at the show will you whip his penis or spray it will alcohol". I was stunned. It was beside the fact that our boy was very workman-like under saddle and doesn't drop.



  15. #15
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    I never once said that I advocate brutality... and for you all to imply that I have is unfair. My stallion knows that if I step back towards his flanks and make the sound "uh-hum" it is time to put the package away and put the focus back on the task at hand.


    \"For all those men who say, \"Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free,\" here\'s an update for you: Nowadays 80% of women are against marriage. Why? Because women realize it\'s not worth buying an entire pig just to get a little sausage.\"-



  16. #16
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    Sakura, I apologize if you felt my post was directed at you. It was not. I was simply relaying my experience.



  17. #17
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    I certainly don't mind a well-behaved stallion dropping when I am grooming him and he is relaxed (not calling or acting up for mares). That's a perfect opportunity to grab it and clean it up good! Thanks for volunteering, Buddy! I've done this with my youngsters so they are used to having their penis/sheath handled and cleaned which makes life easier when they become big boys. In fact, I have at times encouraged them to drop by lightly and repeatedly brushing the inside of the back leg so that I can look for a bean, etc. I am not encouraging them to get fully erect and masturbate, just relax and drop it so I can give it a good look over. I can brush their legs inside and out normally and not get the same reaction so it has never caused a problem for me.

    Camohn - I like the idea of backing up the stallion with a "Not for you" from the ground and how that translates to appropriate behavior under saddle.

    WombatCA - I agree that it would be very helpful to spend time with the stallion and owner before moving him so you can observe and replicate her methods. Also, you probably already know this but just in case, never give treats to stallions from your hands. I think its better to never give treats to them at all but some people will put them directly into the stallion's bucket. The problem is that if they smell them they will want to dig and nibble at your pockets, your hands, etc. which can turn into more than a nibble and general mouthiness.
    Altamont Sport Horses
    Trakehners * Knabstruppers * Appaloosa Sport Horses
    Home of stallions: Ambrosius af Asgard "Atlantis" & Hollywood Hot Spot
    Birmingham, AL



  18. #18
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    I completely agree with Kathy and manage my stallions the same way. Ignore the penis and pay attention to the behavior which is what matters. Lots of good advice here! Enjoy your stallion...they are fun to ride and so different from mares and geldings.



  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sakura View Post
    I never once said that I advocate brutality... and for you all to imply that I have is unfair. My stallion knows that if I step back towards his flanks and make the sound "uh-hum" it is time to put the package away and put the focus back on the task at hand.
    I don't believe anyone here implied that you advocate brutality. Hence my statement above:
    (NOTE:!!! I am NOT excusing anyone here of that behavior - just acknowledging and explaining that it occurs far too often).
    My posts are merely to give stallion owners a different perspective from someone who "does" deal with a lot of different stallions AND who also rides and trains stallions, when I have time <rolling eyes>.

    My position on threads like this will always be the same. I do not accuse anyone of brutality. Those that use undo and unnecessary methods know who they are without my having to point a finger. But I do attempt to explain why I believe what I do and hope that my explanations offer some insight from a completely different perspective. One thing I will note as that many, many, many trainers are NOT breeders and have no real interest if a stallion is collectable/breedable. Consequently, their methods are embraced. Indeed, I can't tell you the number of Quarter Horse trainers that place ALL (yes ALL!!!) stallions in their barns on Regumate with no regard for how that may impact those stallions' fertility. They are, in essence, drugging those stallions. Progesterone is KNOWN to have a tranquilizing effect, as well. Note again!!! I am NOT implying that anyone here uses that method, but I do encourage those stallion owners who have trainers that employ those methods (Regumate, etc.) to take a long hard look at their capabilities as "trainers".

    Once again, I hope that clarifies the above posts.

    Kathy St.Martin
    Equine Reproduction Short Courses
    http://www.equine-reproduction.com



  20. #20
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    All the above being said, working a stallion in a crowded situation leaves the responsibility on the rider. Mare owners are not expected to go round ducking their heads to see if the horse they are passing is an entire. Then there are those stallion riders who go round shreiking that their horse is a stallion, stay clear!

    Also, a stallion is still a stallion and unless he is well behaved (at l4 he probably is or he would have been gelded if he's not breeeding),
    the rider still needs to feel confident and competent. Horrible incident where a well known rider got killed by a stallion.
    It is not for everybody.



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