WHAT CAN I DO FOR MY 18-YEAR-OLD HORSE WHO WAS GELDED TWO YEARS AGO AND THINKS HE’S STILL A STALLION?
Note: The following excerpt is the transcript from a question I answered from my Facebook Live made in the Steady Horse Facebook Group on 7/3/19. Watch the video or read the text below to learn the answer to the question.
With some stallions, they can be aged and you can geld them and they’re going to get over it. You’ll see a drastic change in their behavior. With others. It’s going to take longer. It’s not that that change doesn’t happen, but it takes a little bit longer.
It’s more than just hormones that are acting at this point because it’s a learned behavior that they’ve done for a number of years. So it’s not, snip, your ponies gelded and then he’s a little angel. Now there’s a lot more that goes into it because you’re looking at 18 years of this learned behavior, this stuff, this perpetuated cycle of being a stud horse.
It’s so important that we teach our stallions and stud horses to be safe, to be soft, to be steady. I see all too often that these stallions end up getting away with murder if you will. They’re not taught to be gentlemen. We’re okay with them, pacing back and forth, whinnying and calling out to everybody, nipping at other horses and challenging other horses and stuff like that. They’re never taught to be gentlemen.
The bad thing about that is it’s the worst thing for a stallion because these stallions have a certain time frame in which that they’re going to be breeding these mares and doing all that kind of stuff. But then what happens to them after that when they’re aged? And so in order to preserve that horse’s mind, it’s important that we start this process from the get-go.
We are where we are now. So what can we do for this horse right now?
Well, the first thing again is just making sure that you’re being gradual and looking for progress. Okay? So we’re not going to see a night and day difference just overnight. What we want to do is begin to teach that horse that there are some expectations. And so, especially if he’s hard to handle or dangerous if he’s in a stall or a pen.
There are certain things that you can do like standing for distance and just moving their feet from back to the side. You know, waving your stick, having the move away from you. When they do take a deep breath, let them know that they’ve done a good job and go into the other side of the pen and the driving him to the other side.
Because the stallions become can become very aggressive, very dominant, and they can become very defensive about space. So by teaching your stallion to share space with you, what you’re doing is you’re changing their mindset that you’re not entitled to the space that you need to share this space with me and you need to be a gentleman about it. So when I come over to this side of the paddock, I expect you to move over to that side. Those kinds of simple exercises can begin to change your horse’s mindset.
Another thing you can do is if he ties well, and ties safely, to be able to tie him where he can see other horses, but in an area apart from that where he can just stand there and watch the horses go and come so he gets used to horses being around him and also leaving him. Of course, keep him in a separate area where they’re not going to be able to access him. Where he can see those horses coming and going, because then that helps to teach him they’ll be coming and going all day and he doesn’t have to worry.
You know those horses, even though they’re going, they’re going to come back. They’re not just going to leave you and you can be okay when you’re by yourself, you don’t have to have to freak out. So if you can tie that horse for a good 40 minutes, an hour, and I’m a strong proponent of tying horses for 45 minutes to an hour after after working, in order to help them to gain a little bit more discipline to where they don’t always have to be grazing or running or playing, where they can just take some time, lower that head enjoy not having to be worked. And again, also it gives them some mental time to let whatever work you’ve done with that horse to kind of sink in.
So, don’t be discouraged. You know you can make some way with your pony, but the key is to look for little bits of progress. And again, don’t expect things to just change overnight. This is 18 years of a particular mentality that slowly has to be changed. If you stick with it and you’re gradual, you will see results.