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Young Stallion Pinning His Ears


I came across this website from a search engine. I have a problem you might be able to help me with. I have a 2 1/2 year old QH stallion that I have raised since birth. He is a wonderful boy, very smart, soft and responsive. He gets turned out to pasture with my gelding for about 10 to 12 hours a day and spends the rest of his time in a 12X12 box stall with an attached 24 X 60 gravel paddock. He loves to play so he has an assortment of toys in his stall (a couple balls, a roller toy in the corner and I give him empty 5 gallon oil jugs to play with too).

My problem with him is ear pinning in the stall, which has turned into lunging at people with his ears pinned when they walk by his stall. The strange thing is, if you open the feed door and he can have his head out his ears immediately go up and he is very pleasant. He pins his ears at me when I go to open his stall door to turn him out to pasture. I don't open the stall door or feed door until his ears go forward and he has figured this out. He still goes quickly to the door with his ears pinned aggressively but all I have to do is stand near the door for a second and his whole attitude changes. His ears go forward and he stands quietly while I open the door, he steps back when I ask him to and then lowers his head for the halter.

Once you are in the stall with him he never pins his ears or acts threatening at all. You can lead him with just a rope slung around his neck and he never puts a toe out of line. You can move him around the stall to clean around him and the worst thing he does is play with the shovel when you aren't looking. He is wonderful with ground work and roundpenning and is even going well W/T/C under saddle after about 10 rides. I don't believe in working a young horse hard (I dont think he broke a sweat once during his time under saddle), I just wanted a solid foundation on him before winter. Now the ground is frozen so I am unable to really work him. He does get cross tied and brushed every couple days and haltered for turning out and bringing in every day. In general he is very respectful and soft, especially for a young stallion. I just worry about the ear pinning in his stall, I am concerned it may develop into something more. Worst of all it makes people think he is aggressive (which I really don't think he truely is). He seems to be "all talk" but I want to know what I could do to put a stop to this behavior. Any advice would be appreciated.

Thank you.

Hi Dawn,

Ear pinning is very common with young horses, especially stallions, as is being mouthy and 'jousting' with the mouth. These youthful games can become adult habits that can get dangerous unless definate boundaries are appropriately set and constantly kept. You sound like you already have a lot of good equine knowledge and skills. And what you have done already sounds perfect.

Seems this behavior is only when he is in the stall. Is that correct? All other times he is fine? Is that correct? If that is the case; try directing a bit of movement from the outside of the stall. In other words, if he pins his ears when you approach the stall, immediately request he go from one side of the back of the stall to the other (back and forth) about 5-6 times with you being on the outside of the stall. Then offer a whoa and back away from the stall a step. If he wants to walk forward raise your hand and don't allow that. Hold him on the spot where he is with your body language and voice. If he complies, be quiet for a few moments. Then move him back and forth again. If you repeat this process a few times, do it gently and skillfully, he should begin to only keep his ears forward when you approach the stalland not crowd the door at all. I cannot say he will treat others who are unconscious around him as respectfully as he does you (primarially because he is a stallion guarding his territory). This may take some time to accomplish. But it sounds like he has a good temperment and is not much of a bully. So, maybe you can help him to be a good gentleman as he matures.

Is there a reason for you to keep him a stallion? Are you a serious breeder, breeding only high level horses, with the best bloodlines? If no, then keeping a stallion will severely limit where you can take him, ride him, socialize with other humans and horses with him, on and on. I only suggest folks who are serious breeders keep stallions. It is so much less of a hassle to have a gelding. Please consider whether it is for your ego or in the horses best interest and well being to keep him a stallion. This is just something I think always needs considering when deciding whether or not to keep a stallion. You may be able to be great with him and he you. But most others will not. If you cannot be with him all the time and have to leave for a while or your life changes in anyway where you cannot have him by your side, what will become of him then? It will always be easier for the horse to exist with humans, if he is gelded. That is the sad truth of that. Most humans do not really have a clue as to the true nature or psychology of horses, much less stallions. Put his best interest first... please consider this... Now would be a good time to geld him. If your life with horses is set and you do not anticipate much in the way of change and you wish to breed him, go fot it. If not and he is to ba mostly a pleasure horse and let, please consider what is best for him in the long run... things always change...

Good Luck.
Sincerely, Franklin

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