Training a Stallion

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

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


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?


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.

5 thoughts on “Training a Stallion”

  1. With all the unwanted, lame, & abused horses that go to slaughter every year, GELD your colts. Leave keeping a stallion to serious breeders. In the long run you will save time and money, besides getting a better foal by searching for the right stallion for your mare, and just paying his stud fee. Ask yourself, is this colt nicer than the stallions I see on the market? Does he have something to contribute to the breed? If the answer is no, geld.

  2. Gene: That is the best advice that I have ever seen in today’s PETA world! Like you stated, only pick the best bloodline and the best conformation and attitude, then run him with a couple of older geldings as a yearling. They will keep him in line and learn him some manners.

  3. Gene,
    Excellent article! We have 3 studs and they are expected to behave just as well (or better!) than our mares and geldings. A group of mares are the best teachers for colts and fillies, they will teach them manners in a way that humans never could because of their lightning fast reflexes and natural honesty. We geld 99% of our colts but two of our studs were raised here on the farm. They ran with the herd until they were 4 years old and it was a great learning experience for them. They are now in their own pens but right next to the rest of the herd, never isolated. They are healthy, happy and respectful horses that I am proud to say I raised and all 3 of our studs have given us some awesome, well mannered babies!
    Carol Buck
    4B Farms of Grinnell, KS

  4. This was a Excellent article for me to read!See I have several AQHA NSAB FOUNDATION Horses. And have a exceptional horse to be a stallion IM BLAZING N HOT EXCELLENT Pedagree perfect confermation,I was in the stall when he was born,an imprinted,an kept my hands all over him daily,He is better behaved than my Gelding:But he is kept with the herd,he is 3 know,an the baby of the whole herd,they keep in line constanly,I no many people say that is not smart,but he is better behaved when he is with the herd,N when grooming him trimming his hoof,or cleaning his private,I have never had to sedate him,but as you artical say’s he does stay much calmer quite,when he can see his Mom or any of the other horses.I hope he stay’s with this way, an me as individual have stuggled with many telling me I am crazy to have a stallion they say he will kill me you can’t trust them.It makes me so mad,because just like kids,each horse is different. He is going on 17 hands will make a beutiful Hunt seat or jumper. I finnally got one with withers,lol. But at my age I find Halter,showmanship easier for me.I my self work with the horses. So I do a lot of ground work. The only thing both my Hot N Blazing colts do that none of the other ones do is,they are mouthy,the like to carry ropes.buckets,balls,sticks, around. I am so glad to hear other people see the bennefit of putting the out with the other horses. I hope I can get my trainer over soon an help me get the two boys ready for a bit of showing. If not me an SONNY DEE PEARL will do some this year. I have showed her in Halter n Showmanship for over a week straight in Tulsa,OK. I did not no what in the heck I was doing,but we got the hang of it near the last couple days. A she Won all her Halter classes,I was shocked because she was only 4 than turn 5 first of Jan the year I showed her. I was a mess didn’t no where to start my pattern several times I started at the holding cone,lol. But any way I was so excited when I found out she won me a beautiful buckle. An I got the practice I needed,but it is so expencive an gas prices are up,stall prices than you have to buy your shaving from the place your showing,an pay to park my big trailer. I am proud of my Stallion an hope he gets me some points this year. I have faimly in Alabama that want to lease him. I wont be doing that,if he is hurt that’s his show life. His first baby is due today. he got my very young Halter mare one day,she just stood there,Eating her hay,I was on the tractor March 30 so I witness it,no way you can stop that,it happiens so fast,crazy mare.I will be so happy to see what he trows. I guess that will also make my mind up,if I am going to keep him a stud. I just hope he stay’s well behaved. I am always out of words when people say oh no you have a stallion thats scary. Grrr. I just keep him thinking I am the boss an you have to behave. Wish me luck if I can afford to get out an show this year.
    Becky Burchfield

  5. I am looking at buying a 4 year old stallion.. will i still be able to train him to have good manners or do you think he is already set in his ways?

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