The Penn Started Stallion Program at New Bolton Center offers professional training for the novice breeding stallion
[November 5, 2010; Kennett Square, PA] – “Handling a stallion can be very pleasant and rewarding, particularly if the horse has been started well.” So says Dr. Sue McDonnell, PhD, Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Head of the Havemeyer Equine Behavior Lab at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine New Bolton Center in Kennett Square, PA. McDonnell and her colleagues in the Section of Reproduction handle about a hundred different stallions each year. “Our equine reproduction and behavior groups have a nearly 50 year tradition of professional stallion handlers on staff, working with all breeds and disciplines of breeding stallions.” They are experts at starting novice breeding stallions and have developed a program, the Penn Started Stallion, offering stallion owners a stallion training program, either at New Bolton Center or on-farm. It can range from a quick and easy project accomplished in a few brief sessions to a challenging effort requiring several sessions over a period of a couple weeks.
Examples of specific challenges include the slow responding stallion, the sexually inhibited or “confused” stallion, and the over enthusiastic yet awkward novice. “With experience, the team at our university referral practice has come to enjoy working with even the most challenging beginners,” says Dr. McDonnell. “Every stallion teaches us something new or reminds us of various tips to speed things along. We have come to appreciate that how the challenges are handled initially can significantly impact the success or failure of a stallion.”
The visiting stallion is taught to behave in a safe and controllable manner, using an all-positive reinforcement based method that has been shown to yield the best all-around results when used by skilled handlers. Session-by-session progress is charted using a scoring system for a number of specific categories including behavior in the stall, moving to the breeding shed, reaction to a new handler and other important behaviors related to the domestic breeding process.
“This brief investment could make a great difference both in the life of the stallion and those who handle the horse. It’s the kind of foundation that every horse should get, whether here at Penn or at home,” says Dr. McDonnell. “It’s especially useful for amateur breeders who may not have experience with a breeding stallion.”
For more information on the Penn Started Stallion Program contact Dr. McDonnell at firstname.lastname@example.org.