Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Changing from Horse to Stallion

Most horse people are aware that a stallion is slightly different from a gelding or a mare. I am not talking physical attributes here. I am talking about "mental" and "instinct". All animals want to procreate, it is their purpose and a stallion is no different. Mares come in heat and they too want to procreate and a stallion wants to be the one to do the procreating! Well, throw that stallion into a domestic horse situation and things can go from good to bad very quickly. The urge or "instinct" of a stallion is very strong and people have got to have the upper hand or stallions can wreak havoc in a matter of seconds.

A horse that is ridden, handled and shown is the common goal. To be a stallion that is ridden, handled and shown is much more involved. Manners are everything, public perception is everything. Safety is key. How many of you have ever been to a horse function where Stallions were not allowed? The major problem is their behavior in "public".

Casper was going to need proper breeding training and pass with flying colors, before he could take the first step towards being considered stallion material. How do you do that? He was already easy going, laid back and nice to be around. Breeding training and the possibility of making a foal no one is ready for is a conundrum. Fortunately, I had some good help, guidance and several frustrated mares. First off, we decided "in hand" breeding was really the only way to go. Pasture breeding was out. AI would come down the road. So Training my Horse to be a Stallion when he was asked to be a Stallion was the goal.

With lots of consultation, we chose "whip" training. No, that does not mean we whip the crap out of him, it means the whip tells him what he can and can not do. Rearing up because you are an anxious stallion is a big no no, you will get the whip across those front legs for that type of display. Having the whip in hand, leading from his right side (normally horses are led from their left side) and going in a specific direction (to the breeding chute) tells the Horse that it is time to become a Stallion, still expected to behave, but time to breed. Stopping in a specific spot every time and using the same specific words over and over and over until they "get it", even with a ready and willing mare standing 50 feet in front of him, he could be taken back to the barn if his behavior was inappropriate. Consistency was the key. "you want to breed, you behave on cue". Whip up, means stop everything, whip down, means proceed. Enough of this repeatedly and I ended up with a stallion who looks to me to assure him he can go ahead. My job as his owner and handler is to ensure the safety of him, the mare and the people involved. If the mare says no, we go back to the barn. If the mare says maybe, we might work on her a bit and still end up going back to the barn. If the mare says yes, then all goes well and all parties are happy!

Good in hand breeding is essential to our operation and having a behaved and confident stallion, who knows what is expected of him is a must! Happy mare owners is a result and a bonus!

Now in public, you may or may not see a stallion act up. Some stallions are normally very vocal, meaning they MUST tell everyone they are a stallion and that they are HERE! This can be annoying and can also be OK, but if it goes any further than just announcing themselves then serious problems could incur. Casper is an extremely vocal horse. He talks to us, his people, he talks to the calves, he talks to the geldings, he always talks to the mares and is very nickery when breeding. In public, he is one of those that HAS to announce himself. It is who he is and it never goes any further than that. He is well aware that the ONLY place to breed is back home at his breeding chute in the woods. In fact, during breeding season in 2007, any trailer coming down the driveway past his paddock just had to be carrying in a mare for him, he was sure of it! On occasion, yes, there was a mare coming for him. But most times, it was just cattle moving. You can actually see the disappointment in his face when no one came to get him from his paddock. I know because I peeked around the corner of the barn on purpose to see what he was doing and he is very good a sulking.

So becoming a useful riding horse is paramount, becoming a trained breeding stallion is a plus. Producing promising progeny is the next step to becoming a Stallion!

next blog............Finding the Perfect Match

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