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Stallion behavior question


Hello.

Me and my mom purchased, or rescued really, a turning six year old mare in March of 2002. When we bought her she was nine months pregnant and very under cared for. We had learned that she had been stall bound for almost two years after she miscarried the first time she had been bred. While in "confinement" they stocked her up on hormones to make sure her next pregnancy was a success.

Now, almost two years later I am the proud owner of a very flashy double blue eyed paint gelding which happens to be her son. I have had him since the two months before he was born and everyone tells me we have a bond. If he hears my voice, no matter where he or I may be, a few seconds later he is there by my side. There have been instances where I am the only one that can get him to do or try something new, and the only one that can calm him when he's frightened, upset, or energized.

Another part of our bond is that starting when he was just a few months old, he would allow me to sit with him as he slept. Most people say that if a horse lying down lets you anywhere near them; there is an unmistakable bong of trust. Not only does he let me next him as he is on the ground, but also lets me sit, lie, and play with him. I have had no complaints so far except for the pawing, a couple of nippy moments, and rearing at new experiences when he was younger. Most of these have solved themselves.

My real dilemma I guess is that he is turning two in May. He is my first horse as well as my first time even being around one as young. He's been saddled, bridled, and recently been sat on. Being fine with all of these the only thing that concerns me is this. He is usually very well mannered on the ground except for the occasional tifts when he feels he must break out into a frenzy of slight rearing and bucking at the end of the lead. I don't know if it is merely a baby thing or if there's a problem.

Along with this, if I try to play with him in the indoor he gets a little carried away. Just the other night he almost decapitated my mother by trying to jump onto her as he would his best bud, Romeo. He doesn't lunge, at all. Many trainers have tried countless times and neither a whip nor a plastic bag makes him run. Is there any way that I can control this frisky behavior? At least around people anyway. I guess the real reason why I'm asking is that his father was known to have a temper. Sending fifteen people to the hospital before the stallion was ten is his biggest accomplishment. I just don't want my gelding to be like that. I would appreciate hearing back from you as quickly as you can.

Thank you for your time.

Saranna

Hi Saranna,

I am sorry it has taken so long to answer your question. I have been swamped, too busy and traveling a bit. Hopefully, I can offer you some suggestions.

First off, your colt seems to be only exhibiting natural stallion behavior. Nothing extreme or too unusual seems to be happening. He has lots of energy that perhaps is not being "let out." In the wild he would run around and play until he naturally tired himself out. I would bet money he is not getting the exercise he really requires. This simple fact would explain most the behavior you are describing. As long as he has all this excess energy it will be challenging to modify his behavior at all. Take a good look at ways to turn him out more so he can exercise himself naturally, if this is possible. Although, I understand it may not be an option.

Here is what has worked for me when training stallions with similar resistance to moving forward or lunging. I slow everything way down (which most folks do not do). Generally people try to get as "big" as they can with their cue. I go in the opposite direction. First I will do simple things that get the horse really connected to me. These may be just simple moves you know the horse is comfortable doing that you can do together as a team (i.e. simple leading, stopping, backing, etc.). Also, being quiet with the horse can help. Let him "join up" and follow you around. Usually, if the horse will lead well, I can take the lead rope in my left hand and "haze" him to walk forward with my right. Do you understand what I mean by this? With stallions (and generally) I carry a 4-5 1/2 foot wand. This is not to hit the horse with at all. It simply gives me a bit more physical presence with the horse. It makes my "arm" longer and more of an attention getter. If the horse will walk forward nicely with this type of cue, I gradually ask him to begin to go in a circular path around me. Once he makes a little effort to do it, he gets a bit of praise. Then I ask again after leading straight for a short distance. If I get a "try" he gets praise. They are very smart as you know. The horse wants to please you and get the praise so they will usually begin to understand what you want (to go around you in a circle) and do it.

As far as his behavior around people.... well, he is a young stallion and unless he gets a lot of exercise he will always be a bit "up in the air." It's just normal. He will need to be worked for 30 minutes or so before having people interact with him too much. Its important for you to get the horse lunging. Free lunging in a round pen would be really helpful. Once he really understands you want him to move around you, it should work. Once he does that well you can begin some really fun "at liberty" training. Until now I do not think he really gets what you want, as opposed to being resistant or stubborn. Take it slow and remember to ask for one step at a time, so to speak.

As he is a young stallion you cannot expect him to be docile most of the time. Expect a lot of energy all the time. This is the nature of the stallion and especially a baby which he still is. It will be many years, 3-5, before he really matures and until then and perhaps beyond, he will require vigilance always. DO NOT TRUST THAT HE WILL NOT JUMP UP AND SURPRISE YOU WITHOUT ANY NOTICE. DO NOT TURN YOUR BACK ON HIM. This does not mean you have a bad horse or a mean horse or anything like that. It just means you have a normal stallion. If his sire has a history of aggression, be doubly on guard. Like father, like son is not that far off when dealing with horses and people. There are always some genetic personality tendencies passed on.

Please let me know how it all goes. I am most interested as I do a lot of stallion training. I am free to travel to give seminars. If you think there may be interest in your area for my type of training, please let me know.

Sincerely, Franklin

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