2938 Vet. Med. Basic Sciences Bldg.
2001 S. Lincoln Ave.
Urbana, Illinois 61802
By Kimberly Meenen
University of Illinois
College of Veterinary Medicine
"Don't trust a stallion," says Dr. R.D. Scoggins, equine Extension veterinarian at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine at Urbana. "That means any stallion. It does not mean to handle them differently; just don't let your attention wander while around one."
The reason for this warning is the fact that the male hormone testosterone increases aggressiveness. Stallions are very territorial about their own personal space. This aggressiveness could result in serious injury if precautions are not taken.
"The request by owners to have stallions castrated is not simply a means of birth control," Dr. Scoggins explains. "Geldings (castrated male horses) are easier to handle because their principle source of testosterone -- and thereby aggression -- is removed."
He points out that some stallions which have been shown at halter become very aggressive if they perceive they are being threatened or may be physically disciplined. "They may have experienced some fairly strict physical discipline to get them mannered and trained to show properly. Use special care when handling these horses."
He also warns that owners or handlers should not get between a stallion and another horse the stallion is interested in, regardless of the other horse's gender. When a stallion is being examined by a veterinarian, the handler should stay on the same side as the veterinarian and pay attention to the horse and its attitude, not to what the veterinarian is doing.
Because of the territorial nature of a stallion, a veterinarian may want to get the animal "on neutral turf," rather than performing routine procedures in the stall. Stallions are easier to work on in a veterinary clinic or neutral site.
Some people, in an attempt to enhance either appearance or performance, may use anabolic steroids in either non-stallion halter or performance horses. According to Dr. Scoggins, anabolic steroids can increase a horse's aggressive, stallion-like behavior. "These animals may be nearly as aggressive to handle as normal stallions and should be given the same respect."
He adds, "The most serious injuries experienced by
people often come from gentle stallions, mostly because they are
overly trusted resulting in someone getting careless. Although
stallions are most aggressive during the spring and summer breeding
season, they remain stallions all year round."