|Michigan TWH owner
Question: Hello Panel,
I have noticed that there seems to be a trend for novice horse owners and casual riders to purchase and stand a stallion at stud.
It was only after MANY years of horse ownership and only after finding a stallion that was exceptional in personality, gentleness, and talent, that we decided to even own a stallion. We also spent many years assisting in a breeding barn before we considered standing a stallion of our own.
What suggestions do you have to assist so many first time stallion owners
or those considering purchasing a breeding stallion for the first time?
From Panelist Liz
We have so many stallions in this country of all breeds that are excellent and should be but we also have way to many that should not be and are not helping to maintain the good qualities of our breeds .
Having a stallion should only come after long honest consideration and it should be for the good of everyone.
One should learn what it is to handle a stallion correctly so he understands
the rules but also does not have to be handled harshly all the time to
be kept in control. Having a facility that will hold one that is safe and
secure . But also room where he can exercise.
I also recommend when working with a stallion one should wear a helmet.
Stallions tend to strike more often with their front hooves and mares use
their back hooves more and a strike only takes a blink of an eye even the
best behaved can surprise you at any time. So
Owning a stallion should never be taken lightly.
From Panelist Lee
Tell them not to do it? <g> Seriously, a stallion is
a big investment not only in the actual animal, but in safe facilities,
consistent handling (time) and in most places, extra insurance. If
a person is going to lay out that sort of money and time, he should have
a reasonable hope of recovering at least part of the cost in some way.
The only way this is going to happen with a horse that is not a winning
racehorse, a cutter or roper where money can be made from his athletic
ability (not too common in the gaited horse world) is through breeding
fees. The way one makes money through breeding fees is by standing
a horse that other people want to breed to. What do people want to
breed to? Generally, unless the horse is the only representative
of his breed available on the continent (and with AI and
Because of these factors, very few horses are going to make money as stallions, and only some will break even. Most backyard stallions don't make money, don't break even, and cost a lot to maintain. So, unless you really like riding the horse, for his own sake and because he is a good ride for you, something that he will also be as a gelding, there is not much economic incentive to keep him entire. He will have a happier life is he is a gelding and allowed to go out to play with other horses than he will as a stallion, kept to breed a scant handful of mares (if that) with no possibility of safe interraction with other horses. Unless you don't care what happens to him or your other horses, or have an unlimited area of pasture (several hundred acres) it is the height of folly to run a stallion out with a herd of mares full time. Accidents happen -- mares kick, foals by their sides get hurt, etc.
Then there is the safety management issue. Stallions are not like geldings
or mares. Despite all the nice fiction and the personal stories you
will hear about stallions that are so gentle that they can babysit children,
they are male animals with a lot of hormonal urges that can express themselves
in less than human- friendly ways. They can be agressive, they can
be dangerous, they can be a liability on your insurance. Even the
So, advice to a potential novice newbie stallion owner -- think long and hard about the realities of the situation. Learn what you can from those with experience in this field (breeding operations, vet schools, vets) and go into it with your eyes open.
From Panelist Stella
People do need to be made aware of the difference between the romance
and the reality of stallion ownership. The point of breeding is not to
just to make more horses, but better ones, if they plan to be successful
breeding. This takes a committment in time, money, and effort, starting
with becoming knowledgeable about breed, gait, reproduction, marketing,
and safe handling, be it live cover or AI. They will need to talk to prospective
The first time owner is likely best off making the investment in purchasing
a "proven" stud, one who already has a performance record(be it show or
otherwise), training and experience in breeding,a good success rate of
getting mares in foal, and above all, has demonstrated consistency in his
production of quality foals - puts his "mark" on them.No matter now beautiful,
well-gaited, or successful in performance a horse has been, his
While such stallions tend to be much more expensive, many risks are already removed.A tremendous amount of time and money can be put into promoting a young green stallion, training it to breed safely(for horses and humans alike) as well as perform well, only to find out years down the road - once the first few crops are under saddle and mature - that the stallion is not really reproductively reliable...there is little market for his services or his foals. Many people forget that you also have to get public exposure for his younsters, either yourself or luckily selling them to people that will underwrite such exposure for you, either by showing or otherwise putting the babies in the public eye(organized trailrides, etc).
Needless to say, if people really open their eyes, they will realize
they are better off paying stud fees for stallions who have already proven
themselves and owned by other persons willing to make the necessary committments
involved in keeping and promoting a stallion and his get. Most people dont
realize that the stud fee is more than just the service itself,
Knowing the realities, if someone still insists on owning a stallion,
then they are best off initially leaving it to be managed with an experienced
barn or trainer a year or two, where both they and the horse can gain practical
experience. In choosing a young prospective stallion,provided the person
has already formulated their breeding PLAN, the following
-outstanding conformation; minimal faults(since there are no "perfect"
horses) as related to inheritable soundness, gait, and typiness for the
From Panelist Theresa
I have noticed that trend especially in the walking horse, peruvian paso, and other gentle breed horses. In my opinion, the answer is two fold.
If one chooses to own and stand a stallion, using a stallion station, then it is recommedable that they establish those contacts with stallion stations, understand what their long term goals shall be, and have professional horse people help them execute the plan. (ie: trainers, other breeders who have had a longstanding breeding operation, legal advisors, etc)
On the other hand, if a "novice" chooses to own a stallion, keep it
at home, stand it to the public, or have his operation open to the
public, I highly recommend that they choose otherwise. Stallions are dangerous
animals, period! They need someone who has many
Novices who are interested in owning stallions need to look at reality. The liablitiy involved with owning, standing, boarding (mares and foals in for breeding) is tremendous.
If one intends on standing a stud there are several steps they need to take. Prior to owing a stallion they need to evaluate what their goals are. Are they only breeding their own mares? are they standing to outside mares? Are they using Veterinary Assisted Breeding? Do they know the bloodlines, the dispositions, the conformations, and the gaits known to that bloodline? Which bloodlines do and dont cross. (The homework prior to purchasing a stallion is tremendous. We looked for four years to find the stallion we wished to purchase. When we found him, we knew it was the one we wished to use.
We have gelded many, that others said bloodlines were great, we should keep em a stallion. Our decisions lie in looking at the long term for our specific breed. Not in whats the fad for today.)
After the paperwork homework is done, a potential stallion owner should
go through some classes. Some local colleges offer such classes, as do
breeding facilities, or veterinarians who specialize in horse reproduction
and management. (Colorado State offers wonderful wintertime courses
in Equine Repro and managment of stallions. Collection and preparations
of shipped semen, semen analysis courses, and embryo transplant courses).
Don't fool yourself.
I highly reccommend that any new stallion owner hook up with a competent breeding manager, or veterinarian to help them go through the training process of a stallion. They(the stallions) need to know how to behave, how to mount gently and kindly. If you have never bred a stallion, it would be difficult to know whats "acceptable" behaviour.
Last, I would never recommend a novice horseperson to stand their own stallion. Its dangerous to the handlers, the mare, and the stallion.
Again, wonderful question.
From Panelist Laura
I've seen this trend in my area also. I think the gentleness & naturally good dispositions of the various gaited breeds is probably mostly responsible for this phenomenon. If first time stallion owners were trying to put up with nasty aggressive stallions, I think they would sell the horse & get a nice mare or gelding. My advice for new stallion owners would be to obtain help from a trainer, stud barn or veterinarian on how to handle their new horse. Keep in mind that the stallion is hormone/instinct driven and always practice safe handling methods. Even the sweetest stallion can have a bad day and give you a worse day.
If a person is looking to purchase a stallion, I would recommend they buy an older stallion who already has been proven in the breeding shed along with already having good manners & training. Number one - look for the best conformation you can find (you don't get good babies out of "poor" parents - also, why breed ugly horses or horses who can't gait??). Number two - look for a sweet, kind disposition (we don't need to breed aggressive horses). Number three - look for a stallion that can contribute significantly to the gene pool in your area (get a different blood line than most of the horses in your area - hopefully one that other mare owners will want to breed to). Number four - buy a horse that you really like (you'll spend a lot of time together...). Number five if the stallion doesn't fit all your criteria, look for a nice mare or gelding <G>.
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