Two weeks ago when I posted about keeping horses on a track system to keep them safe from an overconsumption of (dangerous) grass, someone responded that this is not possible for stallions. Therefore I thought I post about stallions today and how to keep them.
CAN STALLIONS LIVE ON A TRACK SYSTEM OR BE TURNED OUT WITH OTHER HORSES?
The short answer is: YES! Stallions are just that, horses. They are not predators, or dangerous. For thousands of years, humans have used stallions for everything, from fighting their wars to plowing their lands or simple transportation. Mares were for breeding and bringing up (social) foals. So how can it be, that today stallions are different, nonsocial or dangerous, people have used them for millennia without any problems, in environments where they met many other stallions all day, every day? Xenophon, 300 BC talks in his book about how he keeps his stallions on paddocks together. De Pluvinel (16th century) plucks his stallions from herds to start their education when they are 5,5 years of age. I even read in several books from the 17th and 18the century that one should be careful around mares as they can be dangerous!Think about that.
STALLIONS IN NATURE
How do feral and wild stallions live? Of course we see the family bands with one stallion and 2 to 6 mares in general and of course their male and female foals. But what about all the stallions that have no bands? For the ratio mare to stallion is much larger, so there must be many stallions left without their own family. Well, these stallions live together in so called ‘bachelor herds’ forming their own 100% male family bands. Sometimes leaving if a stallion is able to entice one or more mares to form a band with him.
STALLIONS ON THE TRACK OR WITH FRIENDS IN THE PADDOCK
Knowing nature and knowing history, one can conclude that there is no reason for stallions to be placed in groups together with other stallions and geldings. Of course, placing with mares can be a problem when you do not want to breed. There are mares nowadays that have had the ovaries removed and are therefore able to stand with a stallion. In my experience the mares are leading the herds, even if it is a Shetland mare with a large breed stallion.
PROBLEMS WITH STALLIONS
Alas, many stallions are doomed to live a life of solitary loneliness and exclusion because people are not knowledgeable about the fact that a stallion is just a horse and a social animal in need of friends and family and daily social interaction.To justify keeping stallions locked up in solitary prison, many people will have stories about how stallions are antisocial and attacked other stallions and horses. Does this happen? Yes! But we must (as always) look at the reasons why. Reasons for this happening are:1. Not breeding for character2. To early and wrong weaning3. Not growing up in a social herd until 3 years of age at least4. Not remaining in social contact with horses
I talked about the importance of these 4 points before and how these have affected many horses and their ability to function normally and socially since the 20th century. The same problems with stallions occur with other horses, geldings and mares who are antisocial and attack other horses. With stallions however, the added testosterone and (sexual) frustration can therefore make matters even worse, hence the bad reputation stallions have in our current society.If stallions are bred well, weaned correct and timely and are brought up in a social herd as nature intended, there is no reason for them not to live in a group with other stallions, geldings and were possible suitable mares. There is no reason to geld a gentleman stallion and we most definitely should not. If the stallion is otherwise healthy, can remain barefoot and is a joy to train, these are actually the stallions that should be bred. All stallions that give or have problems in some way, should be gelded and obviously not bred. Alas, humans make no sense in many things they do, and they often do the opposite.
If you have a gentleman stallion, find at least one friend for him, but preferably more. Introduce slowly. Next week I shall do an introduction post for all horses!
© All rights reserved Josepha Guillaume - Dressage in Hand