When I was a kid I devoured Walter Farley’s Black Stallion series. It was awesome. Then I grew up and had a series of reality checks. One of the biggest, stallions are not pets, not cute, don’t belong in your back yard and they are very dangerous.
Scariest job on the planet is holding a thoroughbred mare while the stallion mounts her. Usually the mare is restrained and sometimes muzzled so she can’t damage her lover. The handler stands at her head. The stallion, teeth bared in a terrible smile, lunges up and covers her. He looks like he is coming for you, all 1400 pounds. It’s enough to make you wet yourself.
There are far too many stallions in the US. The only animals that should be left entire are those with terrific pedigrees, beautiful dispositions, and great conformation. A mutt in the horse world is not smarter or stronger. They are more likely to be a mish-mash of awful conformation and bad temperament. The paint world is one of the worst offenders followed closely by the appaloosa world. They breed for color…nuff said. That leads to crop outs, lots and lots of crop outs. A crop out is a horse bred for color, born with none. I had one here to train recently. He was free because no one wanted him, a black horse with three white socks, ewe-necked; cow hocked with gaits that jarred your teeth.
Stallions are banned from most shows for a reason. They are dangerous. You can’t have them around mares. Stallions that don’t ever get bred are usually better behaved, but if you breed them, they become hard to manage. I used to be married to a cowboy. The cowboy believed in castrating, and because he knew how to do it, other cowboy-type individuals, farmers, and poorer horse owners knew he did it, they hired him to cut their stud colts. I’ve been to five horse castrations. They are violent, bloody and frightening. The cowboy way means no drugs, just lots of rope. A horse colt can’t be castrated until its testicles have descended fully, which means you have a pretty big two-year old colt on your hands, a stud colt. The only way to do it is throw the colt down, tie all four of its legs to something strong like a truck bumper or a tree or a tractor, and have two or three strong men sit on it while the lucky guy with the knife, always my husband, made two slits, one in each sack, reached in and snatched out the testicle. The organs are then thrown on the roof for good luck. Swear to God.
Romance writers, and I have been one, think all their heroines and heroes should ride fiery stallions. Do your research. Humans have been castrating horses since the Scythians in 600 BC discovered a gelding made a better war horse because it could keep its mind on its business. It takes a strong trainer and a strong rider to manage a stallion, I don’t care how “gentle” they are supposed to be. People don’t want them around their mares or their geldings because they are usually aggressive and will attack other horses.
A significant fence is required to hold a stallion and to keep it out of the neighbor’s yard. Your insurance company won’t speak to you if you buy a stallion. Your neighbors probably won’t either. Stallions are really noisy.
There are few places where stallions are appropriate. One is on the race track where they still cause trouble, but their breeding potential enhances their value. Another is where they are trained for a specific purpose like the Royal Austrian Lipizzaner. The other place is on a breeding farm. I’ve traveled to breeding barns where the stallions were handled all the time and used to having their feet worked on. The cowboy husband was a farrier. In that kind of controlled environment, stallions have a place.
So all you romance writers, please put your heroines and heroes on horses they can manage. If your hero is a cowboy riding a stud he plans to use for breeding, go for it. Otherwise choose a gelding. My cowboy wouldn’t even buy a mare. He said even they cause too much trouble.