Karlie Mitchell: The myth of the Big Mean Stallion

Sure, working with stallions can be challenging. But are these horses capable of becoming functioning, productive members of equine society? Absolutely, says new blogger Karlie.

From Karlie:

Just to state upfront: Yes, stallions do have special handling, housing, and management needs. However, I’m here to break the myth of “the big mean stallion.”

Really they CAN be trained to behave like a normal horse. As someone who has been been actively involved in the training of a Quarter Horse stallion since he was a weanling, I should know.

The misconceptions abound. I unfortunately could go on and on about the conversations I’ve had with horse owners about their stallions who cannot behave because they are a stallion. “My stallion does not lift his feet because stallions do not lift their hooves.” “Stallions cannot be ridden.” “Are you crazy–you took a stallion on a trail ride?!?” “You cannot lead a stallion without a chain and whip.”

In reality, stallions are in a sense like any mare or gelding because they are influenced by training and the mindset of their handler. I am lucky to have had some role models who sat me down and explained to me about training a stallion. In a nutshell: While they can be hard to handle and stallion-ish, with proper training this can be managed to make them safe horses.

From an early age I taught the stallion I work with, “Hey, you are going to lift your hooves, be focused, have manners, respect me, and do everything my geldings do.” As he matured he started getting a little more interested in the mares, but training and dedication kept that respect intact: “When I am with you your focus is on me. You do not look at that mare unless I say so. No hollering, pushing or any behavior is acceptable that I would not tolerate from any other horse.”

And now we have a nice, well-mannered stallion that goes trail riding, can be led past the mares, hauled out to ride, and is safe. He is not even mine, but I’m super proud of his behavior. He makes me look like some magical stallion behavior specialist when really it was just a simple firm mindset of “You are a regular horse, now behave like one.” Big Mean Stallion myth busted! Proper training and management= proven results. I know there are a lot of horse owners with well-behaved stallions who would agree.

The Spanish Riding School of Vienna, Austria, features a quadrille troupe of highly-trained stallions working in close proximity to one another:

About Karlie: I am from Alberta, Canada and live on a farm with my equine crew (a Paint, QHx Arab, and two OTTBs). I mainly do English and jumping, but also enjoy western and trail riding. I love riding, training, learning about Equine Science related topics, and having a great time with my horses.


Karlie and the stallion she works with: “Yup, he is pretty wild and must be contained with hugs.”

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