According to the conventional horse wisdom we have all heard, stallions cannot co-exist in the same pasture together. This is thought to be especially true when there are mares present. Evidently, no one told my two miniature stallions about this accepted behavior.
After breeding my mares, I kept my stallions separated by a secure fence with a heavy gate. Day after day, they would challenge each other at the fence by running back and forth, screaming out to each other, pawing and exhibiting other stallion behavior. Occasionally they would escalate their conduct by crashing into and splintering the wooden fence rails. Every effort was made to keep each horse in their respective pastures.
I was home one afternoon when I heard a terrible commotion out in the yard. I went to check on the horses and I found the two stallions had broken through the barrier and were face to face in the same pasture. The sight was both fascinating and terrible to watch and because of the danger posed to me, the only thing I could do was to watch. They reared up and struck out at each other repeatedly screaming at the top of their lungs. There was a sound of dull thuds as the hooves struck flesh. They were biting at whatever part the teeth could grab a hold of. Whirling and kicking, screaming, it was a spectacle of raw animal power. Whatever you have seen on TV about wild horse fights cannot compare in any way to what I saw in the pasture that day. It took every ounce of my will power not to walk in the pasture and break them apart. I was terrified that one or both would incur serious injury, but even through they were miniatures, I knew I was sure to be injured if I interfered. I had to stand and watch helplessly as the drama played out.
The battle seemed to go on forever but really only lasted a short time. The two stallions did finally tire enough for me to step in and usher Freddie, the sorrel stallion, into the barn. He was bleeding from the ear and mouth. Once I cleaned him up, there was very little actual damage, just a small cut on his ear. They were both spent but still in good shape. There was no clear victor or loser. Both stallions were similar in size, the same age and condition, so it was a fair fight.
Since that day, they have been pastured together with the mares, the foals and full-sized horses. I see them in the field daily testing each other. One will walk up to the other and proceed to prance around, call out, dance around a little, then walk away. They have spoken their piece and the fight is over. Now they can be seen feeding side by side with no problems.
In the natural world, stallions will run with the mares and foals as a family group. There will be a dominate sire of the herd and the other stallions will follow his lead and wait for their turn to be herd sire. Sadly, most of our domesticated stallions spend a solitary life separated from their family group. They are denied social interaction with other horses and this can lead to increased anxiety, aggressiveness, vices and all the negative behavior we attribute to stallions.
I can’t say if allowing stallions together would work in every situation and maybe the only way to find out, is to try. If your stallions are similar in size and temperament, it just might be worth a try. I would only suggest trying this after all the available mares are bred which will lessen the chance of any serious dominance fights. As a safety precaution, I will keep the stallions separated when the young foals are born until the foals are steady on their feet and able to get out of harms way, if needed.
On our farm, all the mares are field bred. Our stallions will retreat if their breeding attempts are rejected by the mares and try again another day. I recently read an article about using breeding hobbles on the mares. The author referred to this practice as “mare rape” and I agree. The more we can let our horses be horses in an environment that is similar to nature, the happier they seem to be with less stress. I know the environment around our farm is much more peaceful now that the stallions are together.
I would love to hear your experiences or comments.