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Re: [RC] Stallions - Heidi Smith


Perhaps my stallions just have more sex drive :-) Those big Russians you
know! ;-)

I sincerely doubt it.  Some of the sweetest, calmest stallions under saddle
that I've been around are some of the most "driven" when on their home turf.
And even then, it doesn't hurt them a bit not to "get any."  (And, please,
what does ONCE A YEAR do to help out an oversexed stallion anyway??  Sorry,
but now I've heard everything.)  And of course who can resist the obvious
comeback to your line, which is if they are that difficult, why have them in
the first place?

I should add, though that they are well behaved and ride with mares in
heat with no problems. I have seen stallions who turn rank due to no
breeding (yes and who are treated kindly and ridden) and turn around in
temperament as soon as they are gelded. The vets here caution against
keeping a stallion who will not be bred occasionally. I guess it varies
from opinion to opinion---just like anything.

Opinion is one thing--a good founding in knowledge of animal behavior is
something else.  I'd say it has a WHOLE lot more to do with inherent
disposition and management practices than it does with having testosterone.
And sorry, but there just isn't any science to back up such a notion as
"needing" to be bred.  (Are these male vets that need counseling
themselves??)  Furthermore, the fact that a given stallion turns rank and
the fact that he is not bred does not in any way mean that the latter caused
the former.  That's kind of like hearing the roosters crow every morning,
and assuming that that makes the sun come up....  (But then I've heard of
people that believed that, too.)  I'd suggest your vets giving you this line
should take the time to look up some of the good work by folks who study
stallion behavior extensively--like Sue McDonell, PhD, and others.  Although
I'll also admit to using almost any sort of warped "logic" on occasion to
try to talk people into gelding horses that are an absolute menace to
themselves and their owners.

It would be interesting to find out just how many breeders/riders on
ridecamp have stallions that they rarely breed and how the stallions

Our stallion that has been bred the most is actually the most challenging
behavior-wise.  But there again, I don't think it has a thing to do with the
actual breeding--I think it has a LOT to do with the fact that we didn't get
him until he was 15, and he spent the 8 years prior to that living in a box
stall and doing nothing except an occasional turnout and breeding mares.  By
far our BEST mannered stallion in public (the one who got loose and never
said a word--just went off to eat someone else's hay) has had some very
lengthy gaps in his breeding career.  He did breed one mare when he was 4,
then a gap, and then pretty intermittent since then.  He is so mannerly in
public that at one point in his teens, I was sought out and ASKED after a
Friday vet-in if I would go home (since I lived nearby) and get him for a
young boy to ride, whose horse had failed the pre-ride vet check.  (This
horse at age 22 may well get nearly as many mares this year as he's bred his
whole life previous to now.  And BTW, he is one of the most "sex-driven"
stallions you'll find--or at least was when he was younger--when he is in an
actual breeding situation.  But he's also smart enough to know the
difference.)  I've ridden many different stallions over the course of 30
years in this sport (as well as riding them for other things) and I can tell
NO difference in their public demeanor between times when we've bred a mare
on Friday, hopped in the trailer and gone to a ride, and bred her again on
Sunday when we returned, or when we haven't bred for 3 years.  I'll use
Teddy Lancaster's stallion Raider as an example, too.  We picked him up at
Fort Howes last year where the McAfees had brought him out from Ohio to meet
us.  He hadn't been bred in years.   When we drove into ride camp, the
McAfees were out busy with the 100-miler, and there was Raider, calmly
standing in his hotwire pen.  We parked our strange geldings next to him and
set up camp.  Nary a problem.  After the ride, we hopped him in the trailer
with our two geldings with nary a problem and drove home.  Now this is a
horse that is ALL BOY when the girls come by his pen in a situation that he
recognizes as a teasing/breeding situation.  Mannerly, but ALL BOY.  Another
of our stallions who was only sparsely bred prior to coming here (and not at
all for several years right before) is Don Cesar--one of the kindest old
horses imaginable, and who was perfectly fine at the last NW CMK symposium
when I found him out in the barn aisle with Rick Synowski on the lead,
giving pony rides to kids.  (In fact, we are contemplating using him to get
my 84-year-old dad horseback again.)  But then we WANT to breed horses with
this kind of sense and temperament, so we tend to select stallions with this
kind of sense and temperament.

Personally, I prefer either NO breeding or a reasonable amount of
breeding--I think it is likely more frustrating for the stallion to just
breed once, and then be thinking that he really IS going to be the great
herd sire this season, and then doesn't get to be.  (Not that I let that
bother me much, if that's what we have to do.)  Usually the WORST breeding
for every stallion any given year is the first one.  So I hate to leave them
with the impression that that's how it's done, and that any digressions from
good etiquette are ok.  If we breed again, we get another shot at correcting
the attitude.  But if we don't breed at all, the subject never becomes an
issue.  MUCH better than "once."

I never had the thought--- why geld?--- just the thought-- why
keep as a stallion? It was the way I was taught by my mentors in the
business. It would be interesting to hear another perspective.

Well, to those of us riding and breeding, it isn't just a business.  We
value our horses as individuals, and we value their genetics for specific
reasons.  And when their time comes to breed, they do.  But that's the
extent of it.  And personally, I really wouldn't care to USE a stallion for
breeding that  DIDN'T have the kind of disposition that he can be managed
not a lot differently than a gelding.

And yes, I have mares who are climbing the walls to be bred and I wish I
could accommodate them---

Just like stallions--take them out and give them a JOB to get their minds
off their hormones!  Works for teenage boys, too...  Maryanne in Egypt has
described on this forum more than once how most male horses in Egypt are
left intact, ALL have jobs, and likely many never do get to breed.  And yet
the streets aren't reduced to shambles by stallion orgies--quite the
contrary, they are docile, quiet, solid equine citizens.

but fortunately it only occurs several times a
year for short bursts and they have the rest of their girlfriends and
geldings in pasture to console them.

My stallions all pretty much have friends nose-to-nose as well--horses ARE
social animals, and I'd suspect far more stallions become rank from lack of
social contact with other horses than from lack of sex.  (Quite frankly, if
most humans had to make the choice between quick sex once a year with the
rest of the time in solitary with nothing to do vs no sex and a good social
life, I think most would choose the latter as well.)  And I'd submit that it
is actually EASIER for stallions than it is for mares, since stallions have
the same testosterone levels, day after day, with only a gradual seasonal
variation--so they don't have to keep adjusting to different signals from
their bodies.  Many stallions live out their entire lives as bachelors in
the wild, and NEVER DO get to breed!

whereas, in my experience, men it seems are more "ready for duty" at any
time and always seem to be up to the occasion :-)

And males can maintain the "status quo" just fine, when that's how life
happens to be.  They don't get "blue balls" or any such thing....

Horses are probably just like people--- some always want more and some
can apparently do without (and these days with my work schedule, I know
I liked it, but some days I can't remember why!? ;-) )

Sex is not like air and food.  It may be fun, but life CAN go on without it.
Even for stallions!


PS:  Since you insist on drawing parallels to humans, do you use this same
rationale for teenage boys?  Do you think having sex as soon as they are
able and encouraging them to do so on a regular basis will build character
and make them better people?  I spend time teaching in an alternative
school, and while I think the sexual activity among these kids is a symptom,
not a cause, I can tell you flat out that a bunch of promiscuous kids are
quite often a LOT rougher to handle than a bunch of kids whose parents have
managed to drive home the message that you wait for the right girl.  Of
course there is a lot more than sex involved here--but there is with
stallions as well.  The latter group on the whole also gets better grades,
is more apt to graduate, and a whole bunch of other good stuff.  FWIW....

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Re: [RC] Stallions, Mel Sherman
Re: [RC] Stallions, Bette Lamore