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Stallions- Love them or leave them


A Word about Stallions.  I love them

The Best horse EVER. Madrona Sealect Lad

Throughout my horse career I have often heard the old wives tale about how women shouldn’t handle/own/rides stallions.  Like having testicles made the horse evil or something.  I have trouble not cracking a tooth whenever I hear a comment such as that…. Sometimes I believe that a good horse-woman is EXACTLY who should handle a stallion. 

I have owned two and I have ridden/driven/trained/handled/ shown several animals with the extra body parts.  Arabs, Morgans, Haflingers, Clydesdale, Miniatures etc.  My once-in-a-lifetime horse, my best teacher was a stallion and part of me died when he did.  My current stallion Sky is also another brilliantly talented teacher. 

Take a look at the show jumping world or the dressage world….Many of the finest stallions are ridden by women.  Where did the theory arise that stallions had to be man-handled and therefore handled only by men?  And why did lead shank automatically grow a chain on the end to go over the nose or through the mouth and become a ‘stallion shank’…that’s another pet peeve of mine….testicle equals chain?  I don’t think so.  Whenever I have had stallions in for training, I tell the owner to take the chain home…it has no place here.   And they get turned out in a field or paddock every day…not locked in high walled stalls cut off from the world.  My personal stallions were stabled or pastured beside miniature horses because I believe strongly that they need to feel like they belong.

Sky- Sec A Welsh stallion giving a hug

Stallions aren’t for everyone, and a lot of the stallions out there shouldn’t be breeding animals – but that’s another blog subject.  I just don’t think that stallions need force to be kept in hand and that’s what the old wives tale means….that women aren’t strong or forceful enough to keep a stallion under control.   Good horsemanship isn’t about domination- its about partnership.  And maybe if people worked harder on their communication skills and learned how to read their horses they’d realize that force isn’t required. 

What I like about stallions:

1)      The “look-at-me” attitude to life (the presence)

2)      The ability to bond with their handlers on a different level because they live a more isolated life

3)      The intelligence and the need to please

4)      They are cleaner in their stalls and paddocks    

Lad having his feet soaked with BK on his back

5)      They have an amazing look in their eyes


What I dislike about stallions:

1)      The yucky stuff down the front of the hind legs

2)      The fifth leg that sometimes appears

3)      The fact that they ogle every horse in case it might be a mare

4)      You have think ahead when you are in a horse show line-up or crowd

5)      You don’t let your guard down…nature can trump manners

Ashly (Haflinger) competing in Combined Driving


My Morgan stallion had a miniature horse buddy “Riverdance” that went with us the shows.  I used to ride Lad and lead River from the saddle.  My stallion used to play with toys and people used to stop on the side of the road and watch him.  He had his own set of groupies that used to visit him.  My five year old niece used to have lunge line riding lessons on him. (As she got older, she learned how to clean a sheath on Lad for her stable management project for a course she was taking….)   I have a picture of my cat sitting on his back while I was soaking his hooves in a tub. 

I remember one time while at a breed demonstration with 2 Haflinger stallions, after the day was finished, I saddled up the older stallion and ponied the younger stallion off his back, to give them both a bit of exercise after being cooped up in stalls all day, and the next thing I knew I had stirred up a small crowd of on-lookers because I had two stallions together.  I know of people that drove a pair of stallions, or a stallion with a mare.  I myself drove a Clydesdale stallion with another gelding in a Lady-to-Drive class. 

Driving Blue (gelding) and Spook (stallion) in Lady to Drive class

I think its all about attitude and expectation.  I expect not to have problems because I have worked hard to have a rapport with my horses, any horse….with or without testicles.   I once was showing Lad at the big Provincial All- Morgan show and I had River along for company.  During the lunch break (He went Grand Champion Stallion at this show and was later named Carriage Driving Champion too)  I was walking them both around the show grounds…stallion in one hand, miniature horse in the other.  Someone had heard that I was showing Lad at this show and ventured up from the States to look us up. (I think they owned a relative) and they walked into the horse show office to ask where I was…the secretary said “Oh…You just passed her…she was out there walking a big horse and a little horse together”…and the people caught up to me at my trailer, sputtering that they walked right past me but didn’t think it was Lad because he was a stallion and couldn’t be the horse walking with a mini.  Yep.  He was. 

 When  author Cynthia D’Errico came to BC for a book signing, I invited her out to the farm for some natural horsemanship playing.  After Sky (my Welsh stallion) and I gave a liberty performance, I handed the rope to Cynthia…”Here…have my stallion”.   She was initially dumb founded….She was used to seeing stallions with chains over their noses and being yanked around ”People just don’t hand over stallions to strangers”.  Well I do. 

What I love about stallions is their need to belong and what you give out to them is returned 10-fold in dedication. 

5 year old Talia having a lesson on Lad


Tango (Canadian Stallion) grazing beside Teddy (Half Arab gelding)



River, Lad and I







1 comment

  1. Deb, this is an exceptional post. It both debunks every single myth about stallions (and women) and expertly describes the stallion nature in one fell swoop. I learned so much in the brief time I was with you, and I would wish for others I know in the horse world to learn from you. Less than three months after my visit with you this past July, I met another stallion at a “traditional” horse breeder’s. The contrast was astonishing, both in this owner’s adamant belief that that stallion had been “spoiled” by having a woman owner, and her belief that all stallions should be segregated at all times, and always, always dominated. That stallion looked so bewildered and unhappy the whole time I was there, I didn’t know where to put my anger. After having met your statuesque beauty, Lyric, and Sky (whose many talents just astonished me), I left that other place fuming at the ignorance sanctioned by decades of unthinking practices that continues to this day. Every time I read of your taking on a horse, I rejoice for him/her because I know they will feel, for the first time in their lives, understood, and deeply so. Bless you for that, Deb, and again, thank you for such an excellent post.


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