Endurance Riding, Part 4, Section 3

Riding a Stallion in Endurance

By Kristene Smuts

Endurance is one of the few disciplines where stallions are welcomed with open arms. If you have a stallion that you'd like to prove as a good endurance horse, you need to condition and manage him like any other horse, with the exception of paying extra attention to his manners. You have to realise that he can't perform and show off as he does in the show ring, as that doesn't go down well with the other competitors and the vets. Besides, showing off takes a lot of energy which is needed on the trail.

Also, you can't expect a stallion to behave entirely like a gelding when confronted by all the luscious ladies around him, and you as the rider have to handle him in such a manner that your fellow competitors won't avoid you at all costs - both while riding and when socialising afterwards!

I personally ride a stallion and concentrate on his manners when at home, as that will come to bear when at a ride. I make an effort to socialise him and to make him understand that work and play are two totally different things and that he should handle himself accordingly. In fact, I rode halfway with a mare when at the Gauteng 100 miler, and he behaved himself like a gentleman.

Many theories exist about how a stallion should be treated, but I'm of the opinion - my personal experience with my boy proves it - that a stallion should have as much socialisation as possible and not be closed in a stable without any mental or physical stimulation - my stallion sleeps out 24 hours summer and winter and is ridden every day, sometimes with a mare as well.

Although you've taught your stallion manners and he makes you proud, at a ride you have to make sure that you keep out of the way of the other horses, as you should never bet against hormones - they'll always win. Stallions are naturally territorial and combative and putting yourself in a dangerous situation is to your own detriment. Train your stallion to respect electric tape if that is your choice of temporary paddock and make sure you camp away from the other horses. Some venues provide special paddocks for stallions, but not all of them do, so rather train for the unexpected.

By plaiting a yellow ribbon in his tail, you've done your job of warning other people away from you, but some people are purposefully colour blind so make allowances for that by keeping your distance.

If you've owned your stallion for awhile or have purchased one with the aim of riding him in endurance events, you'll know that you should treat him differently to a gelding or mare. They don't like being pushed, or beaten on and they definitely don't like being nagged. They respond well to kindness but not wimpishness; they like it when you take their opinion into consideration; they don't like it when you keep slapping them about or shouting at them all the time.

A stallion is different in every sense of the word and if you treat him well and gain his respect as a partner, you'll have many joyous miles with him because he'll work his heart out for you. I've worked with mares and geldings before, but far prefer stallions.

In our next article : Effects of trailer rides on the horse; Conditioning for the next 3 months; TLC before and after the ride.

References : Susan Garlinghouse; Nancy S Loving; Lew Hollander; Captain M Horace Hayes; Peter D Rossdale

Part 5, Section 1