Ask an Expert

Training a Stallion

January 2, 2012

Set your stallion up for behavioral success with tips from AQHA Professional Horseman and judge Gene Parker.

Question:

I’ve got a colt that was born this last spring, and he’s already starting to show stallion behavior. How do I work with him and train him so that he’ll be a good-mannered stallion? If he is too pushy, am I better off just gelding him?

Answer:

It takes an exceptional horse to be a stallion: an individual with the right pedigree, good disposition, good legs and balance. We geld 95 percent of our colts. It’s a mistake to keep one a stud just because you want a stallion; you’ve got to have something special. There are too many good horses out there.

If you do decide to keep your colt a stallion, try these stallion training tips:

  • When our colts are weanlings or yearlings, we turn them out together and let them socialize.
  • A stallion that’s 3, 4 or 5 years old, he’s set in his ways and if he’s learned too many bad habits, you’re not going to get much done with him.
  • I’ll take an aggressive yearling and turn him out with my roping geldings; I’ve actually had colts I’ve turned out with broodmares. It will turn them around, and they will learn to respect other horses. You can’t wait until a stallion is 3 or 4 to do that, because then he’s too strong and aggressive. But it will help his disposition in the long run if he learns it young.
  • It’s a big mistake to just keep a stallion totally away from all other horses. In our show barn, when we’re grooming or working stallions, we’ll have other horses around, mares and geldings. We won’t tie a mare right next to him, but she might be where he can see her. A lot of people will keep stallions separate from everything, and that’s the worst thing to do. You have to let them be horses; they have to learn how to act right around other horses.
  • Ponying stallions helps, too, to help settle their minds and get them quiet around other horses. I’ll pony all my show stallions, using my roping horses that are used to being dallied off of. I always make sure that the stallions are not allowed to be aggressive toward the pony horse.
  • You can’t be too aggressive with stallions or you get them scared, and that adversely affects showing and breeding performance. You have to have a certain amount of respect in them, but you can’t abuse them.

The biggest thing with a stallion is you have to start with a good disposition. If you’ve got a horse that’s rank or aggressive, it’s hard to get him into show mode. But if a horse is good-minded to begin with, he’ll tend to be that way in the show ring.

– AQHA Professional Horseman and judge Gene Parker of Orrum, North Carolina
Parker Quarter Horses

Want to learn more about handling a stallion from Gene? Check out “Good Manners” in the December 2011 issue of The American Quarter Horse Journal, where Gene pairs up with AQHA Professional Horsewoman and judge Gretchen Mathes.