For some horse owners, the idea of owning a stallion is exciting and a bit of a dream. After all, we can all imagine how striking a gorgeous stallion strolling into the ring is. However, unless the horse has fantastic breeding value and you intend to breed from him, you are just giving yourself a huge amount of unnecessary work.
I am very much of the belief that there should be fewer stallions than mares. This is because realistically, each mare can only have one foal a year, whereas a single stallion can have 100s each year. Many stud books and breeding organisations use this fact when it comes to grading their breeding stock. There is stricter criteria for stallions to achieve a top score than for a mare. This is because a stallion has a bigger influence on the population, so they want to make sure only the very best stallions can breed.
I can’t help but feel that if a stallion doesn’t meet this criteria, it should be gelded. This isn’t just because I don’t believe they are good enough to pass on their genes, but also because a stallion is more work than a gelding and why would you deliberately make life hard for yourself?
As industry, we have this view that stallions are so controlled by their hormones that they are dangerous and often uncontrollable around mares. This is, to an extent, true. The typical stallion will be very difficult to handle around mares, especially over the summer when the mares are in season.
However, while I was at University studying Breeding and Stud management, we learnt that this behaviour can be trained to improve handability and also the horses mental well being. Many big studs, especially in Europe, have some fantastic routines and yard designs in place so that stallions can be competing and breeding. Simple things such as if they turn right out of the stable they are going to the collection (breeding) area and if they turn left they are going to the field or the arena. Many of these horses quickly learn when it is time to work and when it is time to be a stallion.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of horse owners don’t have the facilities, time or knowledge to be able to implement these practices with their stallion. Which will more than likely mean even the most well mannered stallion will be controlled by his hormones.
If you choose to own a stallion, you have automatically limited what yards you can keep your horse at. The majority of yards have a no stallion policy simply because they do not have the facilities to house a stallion. They need to be kept as separate from mares as possible, can rarely be turned out with other horses and will need taller and more secure fencing than the typical horse.
The chances are, the only yards available to you are more professional competition style yards which will be more pricey and may only offer part or full livery.
Very few shows have the facilities to host stallions. By owning a stallion you can pretty much rule out all local level shows, which are fantastic for building a horse’s confidence and experience. Instead, you will have to stick to competitions at more established venues. These competitions are often more expensive and a much bigger atmosphere for a horse to take in. Not only this, but there is a good chance that you will need to be registered to various organisations and may need to take out extra insurance – both of which can be pricey!
So as impressive as stallions can look, I would never recommend your typical horse owner to purchase one.