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38/ FEBRUARY 2012 THE RIDER Gender Differences: Training Stallions

the training tree does not change with its gender. That said, hormones can make a difference in how a horse expresses its basic personality. Under- standing those differences can help a handler commu- nicate more effectively with individual horses of differ- ent sexes.

By Ron Meredith

President, Meredith Manor International Equestrian Centre

WAVERLY, WV—Some people make a big deal out of a horse’s gender and say that people should han- dle horses of different sexes different ways. We work with every horse, regardless of gender, the same way. We communicate with the horse the same way regard- less of its sex. The sequence of skills a horse learns as it progresses up

Take stallions, for example. In many ways, they are the most consistent gender to work with because about every three or six seconds or so, they are wondering where the mares are. So their handlers never have to wonder what it is that is going to inter- rupt the program next. It is always the same thing. In the wild, Nature prepares stallions for their job from the time they are baby horses in the herd with their mothers through the time they are pushed out into bachelor herds and eventually gather a herd of their own. Once a stallion has matured and has a band

of his own, his responsibili- ty is to constantly check to see if any of the mares are ready to be serviced or if another stallion is hanging around looking to depose him. That is it.

teaches him about pecking order and all that.

What we have to remember when we are dealing with stallions is that if there are no mares around to service and no one is challenging them, they are simply really nice guys. They may be thinking about sex all the time but if there is no outlet, they just go back to worrying about every horse’s number one drive, which is to eat. A colt just starting his training may be more or less easy to handle depend- ing on whether he was raised pretty much just with his mother and maybe a couple of other horses in a barn and paddock situation or whether he was raised in a herd. In a herd situation, the broodmares teach the colts their manners and interaction with other colts

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Either way, when you start working with him there are going to be times when he acts a little hot because he is feeling his sex drive. A lot of people misunderstand this as bad behavior rather than as natural behavior. So the first thing they try to do is “discipline” him. This, however, is not horse logical. Instead of feeling a correction like a jerk or slap or sharp word as a communication of the feeling “mind your manners,” he feels it as a challenge. In his mind, you are picking a fight with him over the mare he is now sure must be around somewhere. Otherwise, why are you fighting with him? Instead of teaching the horse to pay attention to you, you are actually teaching the horse that you are there for the fight. The solution is to establish a routine with a stallion that always makes you a calm and quiet place to be, not a constant challenge he needs to address. Heeding allows horse han- dlers to establish calm routines on the ground with a baby horse that will carry over to his work under saddle or in the breeding shed.

So when we first start handling a baby colt on the ground and turning him loose in the arena to play we use a “jaw stabilizer” - a drop noseband just snug enough so he can’t get his teeth apart to nip. That way we can concentrate on staying calm and rhythmic and we can interrupt unwanted behavior patterns without challenging him.

tern. Getting him to accept our grooming calmly and quietly is the beginning of developing a relation- ship with a colt.

As we begin using heeding groundwork to keep his attention on us, we want the colt to develop the feeling that we are a calm, consistent, trusted place to be. We are not there to challenge or fight with him. As we start heeding the colt around the arena on a lead line, we establish the consistent routine that we will use whether we are loading him in a trailer, leading him into an arena, or taking him to the breeding- shed. We want to walk at the sec- ondary line that passes through the colt’s shoulders. If we move in front or behind that line, we influence the horse to go forward or backward or to speed up or slow down. We do not want to be walking out in front of him. If we are in the right position, we can safely and calmly heed him in the direction we want him to go even if he is tossing his head or rearing a little.

the horse anywhere else to cover mares. If he gets excited and starts dragging you along, you do not argue or yell or yank or start a fight. You just keep on maintaining a feeling of rhythm and relaxation by quietly con- tinuing to heed him along, maybe stopping and backing him up a little then go back to moving forward while staying at his shoulder. When you are not in a breeding situation, you do not harass him. We had a stallion named Plute here at Meredith Manor whose favorite mare was an almost grey Hollywood Gold daughter. When he was in the ring and someone else came in on a light- colored horse, there would be a little shake in the saddle as he would give an almost imperceptible nicker to see if it was her. He was not a screaming demon and if his rider had stuck a spur in him to reprimand him it would have raised the excitement level rather than telling Plute what to do or not do.

A young colt can be very mouthy but, if his jaw is stabilized, we do not need to slap him or poke him or startle him in any way if he reaches around and tries to challenge us with little nips. Instead, we can just continue to rhythmically scratch and groom as we slide our fingers up his neck into the jaw groove, allow him to turn his head and feel the dis- comfort of the finger pressure on his own, and interrupt his behavior pat-

We need to make sure he stays at our side and that we stay at his shoulder. Never walk out ahead of him. If he wants to act up a little we just keep calmly heeding him in the direction we want him to go. It is important to teach position in heeding properly to a stallion. You want him to respect your position at his shoul- der to the extent that you can keep him right beside you when you do decide to use him for teasing and breeding. He needs to understand that he is not allowed to move ahead of you or run around you. He must stay beside you.

Eventually you will use other routines to establish a relationship with the stallion so that breeding mares is never a big deal fight in his mind. You will have one place where you tease the mares, one place where you cover the mares, and the rest of the time he is with you has nothing to do with breeding. You do not haul

Make handling a horse with calm, consistent rhythm and relax- ation your own routine whether you are working with a stallion or a geld- ing or a mare. Train horses using horse-logical corridors of pressures to establish routines that will be mean- ingful to a stallion in any situation, including breeding. Train them like any other horse. Then even if they are thinking about sex every few sec- onds, it will not make any difference. _____________

Instructor and trainer Ron Meredith has refined his “horse logical” meth- ods for communicating with equines over 30 years as president of Mered- ith Manor International Equestrian Centre (Route 1, Box 66, Waverly, WV 26184; 1-304-679-3128;, an ACCET accredited equestrian educa- tional institution.

©2007 Meredith Manor International Equestrian Centre Ontario Stallion Awards Winners of 2011 are as follows:

Rexdale, ON – January 26, 2012 – The CTHS (Ontario Division) is pleased to announce the leading recip- ients of the TIP Stallion Awards program, with a total of $400,000 in awards

distributed based on the successes of their Ontario- sired progeny during the 2011 racing season.

The 2011 top Ontario Sires Awards recipients by North American earnings

1st – Old Forester, awarded $50,000

2nd – Bold Executive, awarded $30,000

3rd – Philanthropist, awarded $20,000

The Top First Crop Sire by North American Earnings of Eligible Proge- ny:

$50,000 1st – Vibank, awarded

Old Forester takes the lead as the Ontario Sires Award top earner for the first time with progeny earnings of $3,106,650 in 2011. The son of Forestry sired 41 winners from 81 runners including stakes winners Citius, Jenna’s Wabbit, Kitty’s Got Class, and Weekend Romance. Bold Executive placed second in the Ontario Stal- lion Awards program by siring 50 winners from 114 runners in 2011 with progeny earnings of $2,868,169. The son of Bold Ruckus passed away in 2011 at the age of 27. A six-time leading sire in Canada, last year Bold Executive’s top progeny include stakes winners Sand Cove and Sans Sousi. Philanthropist con- cluded his 2011 season with 17 winners from 41 runners, and placed third with progeny earnings of $2,687,594. A son of Kris S., Philanthropist’s leading runners include stakes win-

ners Bear It’s Time, Grace Phil, Run in Aruba, and Pender Harbour.

The Top First Crop Sire award went to multiple graded stakes winner Vibank, a son of Silvery Deputy, who entered into stud in 2008. In 2011, Vibank produced three winners from 13 runners with progeny earnings of $245,841.

Each year through the Thoroughbred Improve- ment Program (TIP), Stal- lion Awards totaling $400,000 are distributed to stallion owners for their successful eligible proge- ny. This program is made up of two categories: Stal- lion Year End Points Awards, where $250,000 was distributed to 46 indi- vidual stallions on the basis of points earned by the progeny of the stallion dur- ing the 2011 calendar year; and Year End Top Stallions Awards, where $150,000 is distributed to stallions whose progeny achieved the highest in North Ameri- can earnings last year. The Canadian Thor- oughbred Horse Society (Ontario Division) is a non- profit organization repre- senting breeders within Ontario by promoting Canadian-Bred & Ontario- Bred Thoroughbreds, both nationally and around the world.

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