If you are planning on establishing a breeding farm, there are many things to consider. Firstly, you must determine whether or not you want to place your stallion in the herd. While some practice this type of breeding, it can be dangerous for your stallion. When a stallion's hormones are raging, he operates in a vacumn. If he approaches the wrong mare at the wrong time, he can be seriously injured. Though stallions can be injured during hand breeding, at least YOU are not operating with tunnel vision and can potentially pull him out of harms way should the mare decide not to stand. Additionally, if you plan on doing more with your stallion other than breeding, herd placement will make it much more difficult if not impossible. In a herd situation, he will always resort to his natural instinct. As a general rule of thumb, his primary focus will be on his herd, not you. This in and of itself could make handling him much more difficult.
For many years I enjoyed the peacefulness of my stallions in their paddocks. Visitors at Camelot could always pet and enjoy my stallions. They were never aggressive. Many even had the opportunity to ride them. They were happy, peaceful, pampered, and well loved. I have enjoyed my stallions on trail rides, show rings, and parades. If managed in the proper way, stallions can bring much enjoyment to an experienced handler. After loosing our primary breeding stallion and after much soul searching, we made a decision in 2011 to cease our breeding program. It would be too complicated to continue without a whole lot of expensive restructuring on the layout of our ranch due to environmental changes in close proximity to our stallion paddock area but mostly, Quest is just irreplaceable. It is my hope that in sharing this information, the loss of Quest might help someone else. Should you decide to become a stallion owner, consider which housing method works best for you. If he is to be kept in a seperate stallion paddock, be sure and place it well away from yours and other's mare areas. Look to the potential future in your placement choice, making certain that you are and will always be in complete control of his living quarters on all four sides in both the present and future. For example, if you place it with one side on the boundary of your property and someone moves in with mares who place the mares next to his paddock area, this will result in a very stressful situation for your breeding stallion. Once again, it is important to remember that stallions are biologically more fragile than most people understand because of their drive to breed. Additionally, as a stallion owner, livestock laws make you responsible for any damage or perhaps unwanted breeding that may result regardless of the situation and as we have experienced, if you are unable to maintain a stress free stallion area, this can cost the loss of life of your complex breeding stallion.
"You can't love and bond with a horse and not know what spiritual beings they are...there it is, that sound that keeps your horse close and can bring peace to your spirit, that glorious sound of hoofbeats in heaven.--Hoofbeats in Heaven Website
I am writing this to educate and hopefully prevent issues for those who wish to become stallion owners. First and foremost, owning a stallion is not for everyone. They usually require special housing and special handling. If you are a beginner or a novice, I do NOT recommend that you own a stallion as they can be difficult and potentially dangerous if not handled and managed properly. The only reason to own a stallion is if you have made a decision to become a breeding facility. If that is the case, then make sure you have a lot of equine experience under your belt. Educate yourself by reading and visiting breeding farms. Otherwise, there are plenty of stallions out there that you can buy breeds from and not have to worry about all the rest. Setting up your ranch to properly house stallions can be quite expensive and requires the space to do it. In a sense, because of the breeding biology of a stallion and the herd psychology, they are much more systemically fragile than mares and geldings. This is the opposite of what most folks believe. Stallions can be very complex.
While thare are books and internet information all over the place regarding stallion management, I wanted to share my 10+ years of stallion ownership and experience here. I lost my beloved stallion, Color Quest T.F., on April 1 of 2010 due to unforseen circumstances which put him under much stress. He was only 13 years old, a picture of health, and in the prime of his life. He took his breeding duties seriously as all seasoned studs do. It is in memory and honor of Quest that I share my knowledge and experience.
Although horses can breed year round, in the colder seasons, it becomes necessary to induce "spring fever" in horses in order to breed, especially in cooler climates. Spring however is the time of year when testorone and estrogen levels are raging in horses, creating an overwhelming urge to breed. Mares can become moody and stallions become focused on one thing only. There is always a risk that a stallion will become aggressive if he views you as standing in the way. Handling a stallion especially at this time of year takes experience.