"An untrained stallion in the breeding shed can be like having an orangutan on the end of a shank," began Dickson Varner, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACT, Chief of Theriogenology at Texas A&M University and Pin Oak Stud Chair of Stallion Reproductive Studies. Varner, who is world-renowned for his expertise in stallion reproduction and his contributions to the field, presented his methods of stallion handling during the 51st Annual AAEP Convention, held in Seattle, Wash., Dec. 3-7, 2005.

"Handling a breeding stallion can be dangerous," Varner explained. "A stallion’s mind, like most men’s, can get clouded with testosterone when faced with a hot-looking female. A stallion handler must be able to focus the stallion’s mind on him, as well as the mare, and make him wait for instructions. This cannot be achieved through fear or abusiveness, but through training basic cues and maneuvers to the stallion before he ever reaches the breeding shed."

Handlers must be able to use logical reasoning to alter the way the stallion reacts. "Effective communication is the key," Varner said. "Stallions can read us though our words and actions, and we must be able to read stallions, that is understand their language, so that we may be on the same page and communicate effectively."
He said stallions should be approached with the three R’s in mind: Respect, responsiveness, and radiance.  "We want them to be respectful of us, and to respond immediately to our commands, while not instilling dominance that leads to submissive or fearful behavior."

Tools for Handlers

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