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Stallion becoming dangerous as he ages ...

Hello Franklin,
I have been around horses for many years, but had very little interaction with stallions. My boyfriend has a grade paint stallion that has been at my farm for about three years and is beginning to show bad behavior. The horse is 12 years old and for the most part pretty easy to get along with. He is mostly out in a large pasture with two other geldings and gets along with them well. To my knowledge he has never bred. Recently he has begun whirling and kicking out when things don't go his way.

Two days ago I was putting the horses in their stalls and when I moved him out of the way, he whirled and kicked me in the stomach. I was badly, but not seriously hurt, but he has done this several times and just missed me.

Several people have told me he should be gelded at once, but a couple of others said that at his advanced age he might never lose the stallion behavior. I have also been told that he will get nastier as he gets older. He has been ridden a few times, but as soon as he decides its time to quit he just balks or bucks. He hasn't had any formal training, and I have no desire to try at this point. Is there any point in having him gelded or should he just be gotten rid of? My boyfriend says he will not geld him but I cannot afford to have a mean horse. I am really much more worried about someone else getting hurt by him (or myself) and getting sued. I have 10 acres and a rental property with other people and I can't always control access to my property. I am open to any suggestions.

Thank you,

Hi Beverly,

First off, thank you for your thoughtful and generous donation to my website. It is most appreciated.

...Lets see if I can offer a suggestion or two for your situation.

The biggest problem is that the horse was not well-trained early on. This is a sad but true and a very common occurrence, not only with stallions. By the time the horse gets a bit on in years, it is so habituated to its behavior that modifying the horse's behavior becomes a much more challenging prospect than it would have when the horse was younger and undergoing basic training. Gelding the horse now may still help the behavior. But that is not for certain. However, it should settle him a little no matter what. Also, the operation at this horse's age is somewhat riskier for complications. Some consistent, solid training would help even now, if someone can do it. Most any horse can be retrained, even older dangerous stallions. But it takes time, skill, and most of all, consistency over some time. Several months of good training would not be out of order here. A round pen would be very helpful in the horse's training. If you do nothing, the situation and the behavior will get worse and more dangerous. If you simply go to disciplining the horse, he may just go to war with you. He will win a war of strength and aggressiveness. It is about developing partnership, trust and respect, not discipline. This is accomplished over time through consistent, skillful handling and training. If your boyfriend loves this horse like he says, he should have the horse re-started (re-trained) and go from there. Spending the money for training for several months of training is better than spending the money for hospital bills or lawyers. Merely keeping the horse isolated will make him more dangerous and less sociable.

So, I don't think you actually have many options. See what gelding the horse will do. It may really help his disposition. The only real down side is potential proceedural complications in post operation, which you will move through eventually. See what you have after the operation and go from there. Keep me posted and let me know if I can be of additional assistance.

Sincerely, Franklin

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