Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Stallions

There is a lot of myth, legend, tradition, and falsehoods surrounding stallions. From vicious creatures, unpredictable and fierce. To noble animals, courageous in battle, or the stallions of movies and storybooks, that against all odds protect their humans and go on to win races or save lives.





As far as handling and riding they intimidate and awe, otherwise sensible horse people. In the competition ring a stallion does bring that little bit of ' wow power' and 'x-factor' to any performance, that lacks from a geldings or a mares. But they also scare the crap out of a lot of people to, excuse my french.





Sometime they are made out to be the baddies of the horse world, dangerous, unpredictable, killing foals they don't think our their own, fighting with other horses to the death. in fact in the correspondence course I'm doing right now, the theory work clearly states, "stallions on no occasion are to paddocked, or allowed near other horses, except mares when breeding, even in this occasion, they must be in control of experienced horsemen". While i was in Europe, we went to a barn, where most sport horses stallion are sent to be tested, pre-trained and assessed, for their stallion licensing, and performance testing. Their were 200 stallions at this stable, and not a single paddock. A lady i was with asked why this was the case to which she got the answer "do you know nothing? we would have to have a separate paddock for each stallion, and even then they couldn't be allowed to see each other, as they would most likely jump the fence and try to kill the other horses, theses horses are the best of the best, we could not take such risks!!!!"





I think what the guy was really saying was that these horses were worth hundreds of thousands of dollars each, and they wouldn't risk the horses physical well being for the sake of their mental health. The horses, some of them living their whole lives their as breeding stallions, were never allowed out of a stable, arena or horse walker. His reply was funny though, because he may have believed what he was saying, contrary to opposing evidence in front of his eyes. These stallions that would supposedly rip each other to shreds, lived in stables with full length bars, on all three sides, so they could see all the other horses, next to them, and all the way down the aisle. These stallions would work in an arena with as many as 10 other stallions at the same time. If they ever got the opportunity to be close to each other in the saddling area, it wasn't ripping into each other, but a mutual grooming that took place. Most of them dozed pressed up against the bars of their stables, as to be close to there neighbor, in the next stable. Basically what i mean was most of the time these weren't savage beasts, the grooms even talked about the deep bonds some of the horses formed while they were there.





Just to add, this guy who said that the stallions would rip each other to pieces, also went on to say that in his opinion "women are not really suited to working with stallions, i do not let my female staff ride the horses out of the arena, as they are just not strong enough to control the horses outdoors, if something were to go wrong it would take a mans strength to control a stallion" obviously me and this guy were never going to get along as he was in my opinion an arrogant sexist pig!! Matai may not be as big as a warmblood, but I'm a female and it take none of my strength at all to control him, i just use my brain and don't let him get out of control to begin with.





Now if you had let a few mares loose on that premises, and opened all the doors to the stallions stables, I'm sure all hell would break loose, no denying that. But in more normal settings i think stallions can act like normal horses, if you know what your doing, and keep your wits about you.



They are just horses after all. In fact i know so many cases of stallions being just fine living with other horses, obviously they will live with mares in a herd or breeding situation just fine, but there are other cases. Matai, for example, lives with Milo the new forest pony gelding, hes also lived with the Shetland pony, and theses days, Sonny the weanling, is put out with both Milo and Matai, during the day now, for a bit of 'boy time', and to ease him into the weaning. Matai has never tried to 'rip him to pieces', put him in his place, yes, with a nip or push, but that's as aggressive as it gets. In fact more often, you find Matai leaning over the fence as the foals walk to the barn, scratching and grooming them, or sniffing noses, if they come over to say hi.




My old boss, kept his stallion with a 30 year old pony for company. Many people will put young colts in with an older stallion, to teach them some manners. I also know people who run a whole group of mature stallions together, and they function just as a bachelor herd would in the wild. Given enough room, and the right conditions, i don't see a problem with stallions being kept together at all. In fact somewhere recently, i read an article about a study done in Europe, that proved, that even stallions that had lived there whole lives isolated from other horses could adapt to living in a group. They just stabled them side by side an slowly weaned them into living in the paddock together.it took a few days to sort out a pecking order, but this never escalated into fighting, in the end there was no problems




Like most things, there is going to be bad individuals, a rogue, or bad egg. But these are not the general rule. There will also be thousands of horses, and yes stallions that are aggressive, and unpredictable, but most of these horses, are just exhibiting man made behaviours, from a artificial environment. Not even taught basic manners and handling skills, some of these horses, are boxed up 24/7 only allowed out for breeding duties. We wonder why they turn into testosterone fuelled monsters??? I know of one place where the breeding stallion, is locked in his box all day then when it is time to collect semen from him, they just open the door and he runs down a raceway to the 'dummy', does his job, and only then is calm enough to handle. It doesn't need to that way at all.




You can see horsemen riding stallions, working mares in season from there back. Matai is very well behaved to be around. There are competition studs, that are just fine out and about with mares. Basically there are thousands of great, well- behaved, socialised stallions out there. Just like there are some people who think normal horse behaviour is bucking, biting, and trampling their handler, because they haven't understood it can be any different.




yep there will be some wild stallion out there that drives off or kills foals that aren't his own, but their will be plenty more that care about all the babies. They are entire horses, with all their hormones intact, and as Matai's little foray showed they are going to try and get to mares given the chance, but it doesn't mean they are bad or aggressive by nature.

http://http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JKKWF0ZUGk i found this on another great blog today, which is actually got me thinking about the whole stallion thing.....have watch, apparntly the stallion the guided the foal back to its mother and safety....

oh and heres the blog i saw it on well worth a look http://http://blueskiesandgentlebreezes.blogspot.com/2011/03/stallion-and-foal.html