Most people don’t realize that handling a stallion is much more difficult than handling a mare or gelding, particularly a stallion who has reached maturity. Some stallions are quite docile unless they can smell mares in heat, while others are almost impossible to control without multiple handlers and an enclosed area. Stallions who have already been bred (live cover versus artificial insemination) are particularly difficult to control.
Rule #1: Don’t Get in a Stallion’s way
The worst thing you can do when trying to handle a stallion is to get in his path. Stallions are notorious for having little regard for the people (and other horses) around then, and you might find yourself taking a closer look at the dirt if you try to stop them with your body. Instead, keep a tight handle on the lead rope or reins and try to stay at least two feet to their left at all times.
Rule #2: Stay Calm
Many people become overwhelmed when they try to handle a stallion and start to lose their nerve. This is a bad idea, not because the stallion will take advantage of your fear, but because you’ll lose the ability to reason properly. If a stallion gets too much out of control, simply step away while still holding the end of the lead rope. You can control the horse from a distance while he works out his angst.
Rule #3: Use a Stud Chain
A stud chain is a lead rope with a chain on the end that can be fastened over the horse’s nose or (for more brutal owners) underneath the lip. You can handle a stallion easily enough by slipping the stud chain over the nose, and it will give you a stronger measure of control. Just remember that you can’t abuse a stud chain, so resist the urge to pull, tug or yank it as you’re walking.
Rule #4: Keep Your Distance
When trying to handle a stallion, make sure that you have plenty of room to maneuver and that there aren’t any other stallions or mares in the vicinity. Nothing sets of a stallion more effectively than a nearby mare, which is asking for trouble, and stallions often fight with other males for dominance. So choose quiet times of the day when other horses and people aren’t around to practice handling a stallion.
Rule #5: Ask for Help
If you find that you can’t handle a stallion, the first word out of your mouth should be, “Help!” Get an experienced trainer or horse owner to assist you with the stallion until you can regain control. If there isn’t anyone around, you are better off putting the horse back in his stall and waiting until later.
Rule #6: Avoid Commotion
When you are going to handle a stallion—and especially when you’re going to ride one—try to avoid times when there will be a lot of commotion in the barn. People riding, barn cats jumping, plastic bags waving and other distractions will only serve to agitate the horse. The trick to handling a stallion is keeping him as calm and subdued as possible.