Some of you may already know that I am a Research Student studying stallion management.
After conducting a survey into management I am looking for further information on some points.
How are your stallions housed? In a stallion block, isolated, amongst other horses, not housed at all?
Can they interact at all with other horses, eg touch, smell, see?
Why did you choose this management method and would you do it differently given the option?
I agree with Muskoka. We currently stand 4 stallions. Our oldest stallion has always lived with the herd, so we've tried to maintain that routine when we purchased him. He is out with the mares and foals, and looks after the foals better than their moms. Our youngest stallion (turning 3 this year) is now out with this stallion for company...who just happen to be his sire.
Our oldest stallion lives with a mare all year round for company as well. They are all turned out 24/7 in approximately 1/2-1 acre grass pastures. Each stallion pasture is separated by a double fence line and the stallions can see all of the other horses on the property.
I think many people forget that horses, at the basic level, are herd animals and very social. I personally just don't think it's healthy to keep them completely isolated and feel it can open them up to stereotypic behaviors.
Mine is always out with a mare/gelding/or both. He is never alone. In his stall (which is rare) he is next to a mare and across from a mare and gelding. He can share fence lines with mares or geldings with no issues. He's a very social guy. He's never been a problem tying next to or trailering next to mares in heat or not. I got lucky. He is a true gentleman. He is 5 if that makes a difference to you.
Ours is handled and kept just like a regular horse in our barn with the exception of who he is turned out with. He has a stall with a webbing and crossbar for the door. We have TBs, mainly breeding for the racetrack--webbing and crossbar is how they are kept at the racetracks. He's across from both a gelding and an open mare. His stall is right by the main entrance to the barn, so he sees everyone from weanlings, geldings, open mares, bred mares, and mares with foals, when they come in and out. If he's in his stall when I am bringing in or turning out, I usually stop and let him play/sniff/groom with some of his favorites--one of the yearlings, two of the geldings, one of the mares with a foal at her side (although she's mainly interested in seeing if he has any feed left in his feedtub). He's only 5 and I plan to show him, so this keeps him content and not thinking that any contact means teasing or breeding. He's never been handled with a chain over his nose since we got him over a year ago even for hand breeding, although for safety's sake I do use a longer than normal lead rope most of the time just in case. He stands tied in the aisleway like a normal horse. He ground ties in the aisleway while I groom him or do blanket adjustments or medicate any little scrapes. All in all, he's treated like a regular horse in our barn.
He's turned out during the day in winter, night in summer, and 24/7 during spring/fall when the weather is awesome.
Lives out with a barren old mare with a run in most of the time. Comes into a stall at night in bad weather and nights during the winter. Lives in the same barn as 1 gelding and 7 mares. His stall is set apart from the mares as a freestanding stall but he can see everyone. He has been in a stall right next to mares as well at times. He does not get along with the gelding so well /rather alpha gelding so we don't put them next to each other.
The stallions I worked with were handled like regular horses. They did go out alone, but they did not have any special fencing or what not. They were stabled next to other stallions, and mares and geldings. Our two stallions used to share their hay with one another, they were total buddies.
We could walk mares next to them or trailer them with ladies with very little problems.
The stallion at my current barn is treated pretty much like the other horses. He has a stall at the end of the main barn and sees a lot of traffic going in and out - including mares on their way to and from the arena. The stalls are fronted by half walls with bars on top and a full sliding door, so he can't get his head in the aisle, but all the stalls have large windows the horses can put their heads out. Stall walls are concrete block and have small openings in them about eye level - not large enough to get their nose through, but the horses can see and smell each other. His neighbor is a mosaic (hermaphrodite), and he gets along really well with her, but he is so mild-mannered and good natured that he would probably get along fine with any non-studdy gelding next to him.
He is led around mostly with a cotton lead rope - usually doesn't require a chain - and he stands in the wash rack next to mares without batting an eye, is handled daily by the grooms for turn out, grooming, etc., and is generally a pretty good soul.
Mine are out, mostly 24/7 with shelter. Basically, there is a small alleyway between the stallion pasture and all the other pastures (with a hot wire) -- so they can see all the other horses at close range all the time. Of course, they come in for vet, blacksmith, grooming, etc. But they are very happy being allowed to be horses and check on their "herd" at will.
I have found stallions are each unique just like people. Some like a busy stall with constant activity going by. Some want the opposite and the constant activity means they are very restless and frustrated. Some want out 24/7 or are difficult to handle coming in and going out daily and some want stalls and the routine of going in and out and in their minds make an easy adjustment between regular handling and breeding activity. We try to find a situation that the stallion likes and is safe for the handlers. I have also read about stallion bands and out west on ranches(usually QH stallions) where stallions are pulled from the mare herd at a certain point after breeding season, they go in stallion herds and have best friends just like any other horse...usually mares are not adjacent. My stallion is definately a quiet beast in the winter and could go out with other horses but in a situation where boarders are bringing their horses in and out of paddocks we don't risk adding the liability of a stallion's presence even though he would be no more likely to create problems than a boisterous gelding. I know a gelded breeding stallion who had pasture bred a herd of mares and foals in his history who was in his first gelded year out with geldings and was great except with dominant geldings and he didn't attack but in play he would rend their necks to a frightening degree but sub dominant gelding he was fine with...played but did not tear them up. I think that stallions together might be fine unless you were taking stallions in and out of the stallion herd for training etc as the reintroducing might make to much stimulation. Also much of how we manage stallions has a lot to do with liability and not necessarily what a stallion would manage if given the opportunity. PatO