Saturday, February 10, 2007

Are Arabian Stallions Different Than Other Horses?

You bet they are! All stallions are very different from geldings and mares no matter what the breed and Arabian stallions are different from other stallions. The differences between other breeds’ stallions and Arabian stallions are probably not much more than those things that distinguish Arabian horses from other horses. But when the horse is a stallion things can get more complicated.

The number one instinct in all stallions is to breed. They are as simple and as complex as teenage boys. Sex is number one on their mind whether they’re at work or play, standing in their stall or walking on the hot-walker. Even food and water do not outrank breeding on a stallion’s list of things to do. The only way food or water will every take priority over breeding is if that stallion is dangerously malnourished and/or dehydrated.

Since breeding is such an explosive and physical event between two 1000 lb animals, it is dangerous and should never be taken lightly. Because breeding is the priority for stallions, someone who is not accomplished should never handle a stallion, even if breeding is NOT the reason the stallion is being handled. If you aren’t experienced enough to deal with a breeding gone wrong, you shouldn’t be handling a stallion. From an article My Horse Bites , Pat Parelli states that he forbids his instructors to handle stallions until they have completed levels three or four in his program. If you are handling a stallion and you are not qualified to do so, you are not only endangering your life but you are endangering the lives of those around you.

In our part of the country it’s very common for prize rides and donation rides to forbid the use of stallions, just because so many people bring stallions who can not handle them.

While most breeds handle their stallions with chains, you rarely will see an Arabian stallion being lead with anything more than a halter and a regular lead. The horses are smart, sensitive and willing. They are known for wanting to please. They will do anything for you, given the opportunity. But, as I stated in my post about Arabian horses, you can’t bully an Arabian horse and you better be even more careful with an Arabian stallion. Arabian stallions do not tolerate abuse many will fight back.

With that being said, well-trained Arabian stallions are known to be remarkably sensitive and well-behaved animals. The Arabian Horse Association is the only breed that allows junior exhibitors to show stallions in hand and under saddle. (That rule does restrict stallions from being show by children in walkt trot classes where riders are 10 & under.) When I first started in horses about twenty years ago, I remember a remarkable story that was published either in the Arabian Horse Times or the Arabian Horse World.

It was the last night of the US National Championships and they had just finished the finals for the US National Champion Stallion class. All ten of the top ten stallions were still in the ring, snorting and blowing and strutting their stuff. When the announcer invited the crowd into the ring to meet the stallions up close and personal, they went wild. The horses loved it, showing off even more. To make this long story short, people poured down onto the arena floor to see the horses up close. In the crowd was a blind woman, her way to “see” these horses was to run her hands over their entire bodies. As she approached each stallion, the horse got soft and quiet. Standing ever so still while the blind woman ran her hands over his entire body. Only after the blind woman had moved on to the next horse, did the stallion resume its animated display. This scene was repeated as the woman felt her way completely through the line of top ten stallions.


  1. What an amazing story. It's sad that we give animals so little credit - they are usually more observant and compassionate than we are!

  2. Great story, animals sure are more perceptive than we are. I have seen the same pony ridden by two different riders one a six year old and one a 13 year old (they shared ownership) and it is a totally different ride for both. With the small child it is careful and forgiving, and with the older more experienced child it takes its chances and is more pushy.

    Horses are also very forgiving, which is why they can be abused by their human handlers so much which is so sad.

    Thanks MiKael, hope all is well on the Farm and you arent dealing with too much mud.


  3. My very good friend has an Arabian breeding stallion at her farm, and she had a special breeding halter for him. He knows he'll only be breeding if he gets this halter on, which has fuzzy covers and a small bell on it. The rest of the time he is expected to behave himself, and he acts just like a gelding. Every now and then if he's walking down the aisle and he passes a mare in heat, he'll give her a look and a very low nicker. His owner will then tell him to knock it off, and he immediately faces front and continues to walk, ignoring the mare. But believe me, if he had that special halter on he'd be all about talking her up. He knows what's expected of him and loves his job.

    This can be contributed to three things - his breed, his temperament, but most importantly his handling and training, which has been wise and consistant since he was a weanling.

  4. Actually, I'm not sure that breeding is the one and only drive that Arabian stallions have. I worked on an Arabian horse breeding farm where we had twelve stallions. I'd say four were "hot" in that when you took them out of their stall they pranced onteh lead rope, flung their heads, and generally put ona show. If you weren't paying attention, then, yeah, they's probably get away and go try to breed something.

    However, we had three very well-trained stallions, all to Third Level Dressage. All three horses woudl never dream of bellowing while undersaddle, or displaying poor behavior while being ridden or handled. They much preferred the company of people to running around the farm screaming their heads off.

    What matters is that only and expereinced handler "train" a young stallion on what proper manners are. After that, it depends on the horse. Two of our stallions were handled and shown by children (unsanctioned shows, etc.)

    Anyway, just wanted to put another viewpoint on the stallion issue. They truly are my favorite gender.

  5. To clarify, I wasn't saying breeding was the one and only drive, I was saying it is their foremost natural instinct. It's the way they are made and they must be taught to modify that thinking if they are to be handled safely. If you don't give them something else to think about, it's going to be a problem.

    My point exactly is that if they are well-trained it won't be a problem. And particularly Arabian stallions are know to behave as geldings when they are well-trained. That occurence is not as common (but does happen) in other breeds of stallions.