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Question: I have a 14-year-old Andalusian stallion. I really need help with a behavior issue he has. How do I teach him to be calm around mares? His previous owner started breeding him three years ago, and in a way, the horse lost his initial calm and serenity. – meirav
Clinton’s Answer: What you have to keep in mind is that all stallions have the same agenda and that is to breed mares. Studs are breeding machines. That’s their purpose and it’s hardwired into them. It’s something you must never forget as you’re handling a stud and working with him. You have to constantly be prepared to do whatever it takes to get an appropriate response when your stud challenges your authority. If you don’t, you’ll only make the situation worse by teaching the stud that he can walk all over you.
I’m going to answer your question with questions of my own. Why is your horse a stud, and do you really want to work with a stud? Studs are a lot of work and require constant maintenance. They also demand that those who handle them know the rules of horsemanship; they don’t tolerate novices or mistakes. When you handle a stud, you had better know what you’re doing.
When I was apprenticing with him, Gordon McKinlay always used to say that if a horse is a good stud, he’d make a great gelding, and that’s absolutely true. Far too many people have stallions that shouldn’t be studs. Of course, if you think your stud should be a stud, I’m not talking about you. When I suggest people castrate their horses, they act as if I slapped their kids upside the head.
Assuming your horse is a perfect specimen and you’d be doing the world a disservice to castrate him, the answer to your question is to put his feet to work every time a mare catches his attention. If you’re on the ground with him, hustle his feet backwards. If you’re riding him, ride him in serpentines, practice rollbacks, etc. How you hustle the horse’s feet doesn’t matter, just that you are constantly changing directions. Horses can only focus on one thing at a time. Your stud is either focused on what you’re asking him to do or on the mares near him.
After a few minutes of hustling his feet, when you’ve got his attention, leave him alone and go back to what you were asking him to do. If he calls out to the mares or loses focus on you, put his feet to work again. It’s pretty simple: If he keeps his attention on you, life is easy. If he pays attention to the mares, he has to work hard and sweat.
It’d be like if I were attracted to a hot woman wearing a bikini and every time I tried to get near her, you made me drop down to the ground and do 100 push-ups. When I stopped perving on her and went away from her, you let me sit down and relax and enjoy a cocktail. I’d go for the option of relaxing and getting a cocktail.