Stallion in Training

It takes proper care and patience to get a young stallion to accept a horse-breeding dummy

Courtesy of America’s Horse Daily

Few stallions do live cover anymore. Most are now collected using a breeding dummy, with the semen either shipped or prepared to mares on the farm. Two primary reasons behind the trend are the safety of the stallion and the ability to breed several mares from one ejaculation. Training a stallion for collection can be simple if you have patience and know the proper way to treat a stallion.

Danny Salsman of Pilot Point, Texas, has handled several stallions, including Mr Elusive and Self Employed. Danny has taught many stallions to accept a breeding dummy and knows how to ensure the stallion is happy and productive. Take It Easy “It’s not hard to train a stallion to the dummy,” Danny says. “You’ve just got to have patience and lots of it.” Danny says it’s important for a stallion to have a good time and to be permitted some freedom.

“You want him to know it’s his time,” he says. “I will let him squeal, talk to the mare and dance around a little.” Most young stallions that arrive at Danny’s place don’t know how to act in the breeding shed. They are taught at an early age not to display behavior normal for stallions, like squealing and nickering at mares. So when they enter the breeding barn, many can be confused and frightened by the experience. 

“If you allow them to know it’s OK – don’t jerk on them or punish them – it encourages them to know that this is what they are supposed to be doing,” Danny says. Although Danny will allow the stallion to sniff and give gentle nips to the mare, he will not allow him to be violent or overly aggressive. Not only can this behavior hurt the mare, it can also injure Danny or one of his workers. “If that happens, I back the stallion away from the mare,” Danny says. “We want him to know this is his time, but we also want him to know there are limits to his behavior.”

The Setup

In Danny’s breeding shed, he has a pair of stocks set up by the entrance. Although the stocks are used for mare reproduction services, such as palpation or embryo transfers, they are also used for the initial teasing. The breeding dummy is behind the stocks near the back wall. He has a set of rails set up for the mare to be next to the dummy. 

“The way I usually like it best is to have the dummy close to the wall and have just enough room where the mare can come in between the dummy and the wall,” Danny says. “That way when you bring him in and tease him up, the mare can’t wheel her butt away from him and then he’s not near the dummy. He’s got to stay close to the dummy so he will eventually learn what he’s supposed to do.” 

Tease mares are also important in training a young stallion to breed. “Luckily, I have a lot of recipient mares at my place, and there’s always a bunch in heat,” Danny says.

Breeding Experience

Danny always has at least two to three workers helping him when it is time to train a young stallion. “You can’t do it all by yourself because a young stallion can get aggressive,” he says. “You need good, quality people around who won’t be scared of the stallion and won’t jerk on the horses. They need to have horse sense.” 

The tease mare is brought in first and placed in the stocks. The stallion is then taken from his stall with the lip chain placed under his upper lip and walked over to the breeding shed. “Everyone has different ways. Some use a stud bar, but I just use a chain,” Danny says. “I like the lip chain because it gives you their undivided attention. “I’ve had studs that people just put the chain underneath the chin and they come in here and bite or chew on the mares and bite on you. But with the chain, you’ve got full control of them. They will concentrate more on what they are supposed to be doing rather than begin on you or the mare.” 

The stallion is then led up to the back end of the tease mare, who will usually then raise her tail and urinate. The stallion is allowed to sniff the mare for several minutes to become aroused. Once the horse’s penis has sufficiently dropped, Danny washes it with warm water and then dries the water off with a paper towel. The tease mare is led next to the dummy, and the stallion is allowed again to sniff her and become aroused again. 

A helper holds the mare, twitched if needed. Once the stallion is fully erect and ready to mount, Danny guides the stallion onto the dummy and places an artificial vagina on his penis. The stallion is allowed to ejaculate and then take his time dismounting the dummy. Once he has removed himself, Danny will pat the stallion on the shoulder to let him know he did a good job. Eventually, a stallion will not need a mare next to the dummy, Danny says. “He’ll know what his job is, and he’ll mount the dummy immediately,” he says. “After he has collected a few times, all you need the mare for is to get him aroused.”

Keep Him Happy

The most important thing about keeping a breeding stallion productive is to make sure he is relaxed and happy. To achieve that, Danny never pushes a stallion too hard when he’s training for the breeding shed. Every stallion has a different personality. Some take to breeding easily, while others are timid, and it might take a considerable amount of time for them to become aroused. 

“Some horses are real quiet and don’t like anything that breaks their routine like strangers in the barn or even a telephone ringing,” Danny says. If that is the case, be patient and allow the stallion to start all over again. It’s also good to know the stallion’s comfort level and when it’s time to quit for the day. “If they get mad or frustrated, it’s best to put them back up and try again later,” Danny says. And if the stallion continues to have problems accepting a breeding dummy, Danny suggests putting him out in a pen with a mare and allow him to live cover.  “Some horses are so immature that it will take them a long time to live cover a mare, but live cover will help get the stallion used to the breeding process,” he says. 

Another important thing for a stallion, even the veteran breeding stallion, is turnout time. “Turning the stud out is the best thing in the world for them,” Danny says. “They run out there, nicker at the mares and just play in the sunshine and grass. “Their attitudes change drastically. It really calms them, and it’s good for their minds. They get to look around and get all that extra energy out of them. It lets them just be a horse.”