I don't know of any literature, but have a look at http//horsedoc_org.tripod.com They have great articles, and I found the "lessons form the wild Pt 1 and 2" really good. Let your colt be a horse. Turn him out in the paddock, get him a gelding to be friends with, run him with your mares. DON'T just lock him up in stables and yards all the time as this leads to behavioural problems. Treat him normaly- don't let him get away with anything, handle him with respect and kindness, give him love, don't use any of those devices (chain shanks included there) unless its absolutley nesecary. Stick to this and you should be pretty right.
Dr. Sue McDonnell has done much work in the field of stallion reproductive behaviours and would be able to answer your question specifically, or may even have already done so in the plethora of published research provided on the Havemeyer Equine Behaviour Lab web site (follow the link for the library page).
In answer to your question anecdotally, we have seen more issues regarding behavioural problems (including self-mutilation) in stallions that are bred early. It is not something that is going to become an issue in every stallion bred young, but the risk does appear to be increased.
In another example (again anecdotal, but in a situation that I am personally aware of), a stallion owner bred their 2 year-old stallion (colt) to 20 mares live-cover. When they went to breed him as a 3 year-old, he refused to breed, never bred another mare, and ended up being castrated.
As I note, these issues are not going to be seen in all colts bred young, and indeed, the individual handling may play as big a part as the individual stallion. The unfortunate rule of thumb is that if your colt shows a reluctance to breed, then he's already bred one too many mares...
I am going to take issue with Beth on one point (sorry! ), and that is relative to the use of a chain shank. We will always start out with a chain in the horse's mouth when in a breeding situation - and that is the only time it goes in his mouth. This is IMO important for two points - that it acts as a signal that he is in a sexual situation, and therefore that certain behaviours not permitted outside a sexual situation are now "OK"; and that you have adequate control if it is needed in a difficult situation. I regard the chain as being a little like spurs - spurs are no good if you find yourself in a situation where you need them and they are hanging on a hook in the tack room, but on the other hand, simply because you are wearing spurs doesn't mean you will (should) be digging holes in the horse's side with them when riding. The same applies with the use of a chain by a competent person - in an emergency situation you don't have time to say "wait a minute, I need to put the chain into your mouth", whereas if you are handling a stallion correctly, you should not be making contact with the mouth unless it is absolutely necessary. Having said that - and this certainly may apply with younger horses - if we have a stallion that is well behaved, but completely distracted by the chain, we will move it to a position of lower dominance - the next step down from in the mouth being over the nose and under the halter noseband (I never put it under the chin - that "lightens" the front end if used, and stallions are always light in the front end anyway, so the last thing you want to do is encourage rearing!); the next step down from that being over the nose under over the noseband. The extreme of course is to use no chain, and I dealt with a perfect example of that just this week while retraining a show pony that had been abused by (show) trainers to the point where he had NO libido. It took a lot of "sweet talk", gently slow smooth handling and kind encouragement to get him to finally talk to the mare, get an erection, and mount the mare. At the other end of the extreme, I also handled a stallion that - given the opportunity - would undoubtedly have "taken a piece out of me". It would have been suicidal to not have had a chain in that horse's mouth! So I would sooner have started out with a chain the submissive pony's mouth, and then removed it when it became apparent that it was not needed, rather than having to add the chain in the aggressive stallion's mouth after it became apparent that it was required... I kinda enjoy living and being in one piece...!
Thank you. We're having a discussion on another forum about the issue of selling breedings to weanlings/yearlings, breeding young stallions below the age of 2, and over breeding young stallions in general. I could have swore I read somewhere an article written about over breeding young stallions resulting in infertility issues.
Overbreeding of a young colt is not going to cause infertility in the true sense of the term - it will not shut down sperm production - but infertility is relative... If you can't get the semen out of the stallion because he's fried mentally and won't breed anymore, even though he is still technically fertile, he's no damn good!
Overbreeding is overbreeding. Collecting a colt 100 times is no different from breeding a mare (or rather several mares!) a hundred times. The only possible issue that could make a difference is that in breeding "live cover" there is greater risk of a mare causing mental and/or physical trauma as a result of resistance, but the bottom line is, as I say, overbreeding is overbreeding...
Jos, I have a question. We always did paddock servicing with our mares when we had a stallion (whom we had from about 15mths so he was never a problem, which is where my dislike of chains comes from) What is live cover? I have heard it alot here. Is it just hand serving or something else?
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