Draft Horses Management of the Stallion
Draft Horses Management of the Stallion a practice much adopted on the continent, of allowing the mare to be covered twice within a comparatively brief period, has much to recommend it, but with travelling stallions it is attended with inconvenience.
The custom accords with that pursued by animals permitted by unrestraint to indulge their natural desires and is especially favorable for the impregnation of ardent and excitable mares: the first essay, having the effect of calming the energy and excessive irritability of the generative organs, renders conception by a second service of greater probability.
To the adoption of this practice, most stallion proprietors raise objections beyond that of inconvenience, and do not appear to understand that, if attended with successful results, it is better for the horse to serve the mare twice in one day than to cover her, if refractory, four, five, or even more times, at intervals of several days.
In domestication, gregarious animals rarely evince antipathies to those of the other sex when in ‘ heat.’ Sometimes, however, a stallion, especially a young and overused one, is insensible to the attractions of a mare, and more markedly so if she is suckling at the time.
When an antipathy of this kind obstructs what appears to the owner of the mare a desirable alliance, the practice is adopted of exciting the horse by the approach of another mare, and, at the moment of service, substituting the one it is wished should be covered. The deception often proves effectual, but its frequent repetition has the almost certain effect of rendering a docile horse savage and ill-tempered.
Work. —As the procreative power of a stallion is increased by the establishment of condition, and as condition results from the association of healthy food and sufficient exercise, it is apparent that entire horses must be benefited by moderate labor, a proposition substantiated by general admission that working stallions beget more foals than those whose systems have been pampered by over-feeding and insufficient exercise.
During the seasons travelling stallions cannot, of course, be put to team labor, but they should have sufficient daily exercise to maintain their muscles of locomotion in vigor, to create a natural appetite for food, and to receive the full benefits of pure air and change of scene.
Out of season the influence of a moderate amount of draught work is, in every particular but one, beneficial; the exception being that after long-continued collar-work, entire horses never regain that noble and elastic deportment so noticeable in an unworked horse.
Few farmers have convenience for turning out their stallions in the late summer and early autumn, a practice which should always be adopted when opportunity affords. Even if continually worked on the farm, entire horses are always better turned into a straw yard with an open hovel during autumn and winter, than subjected to closer confinement.
Food. —During the season stallions should be well and substantially dieted, nor should their condition be too much reduced in the other months of the year. At the same time, every tendency to obesity must be checked by restriction in the quantity, and especially in the quality, of the food supply, combined with the exaction of severe exercise, or, still better, by the imposition of a fair amount of labor.
No uniform ration can be assigned for a stallion; each will require in this respect special treatment, to correspond with the amount of work, individual robustness, age, and tendency to accumulate fat. The quality of the articles of diet should be the best procurable. As to kind, oats, and hay form by far the best provender; but in season an auxiliary allowance of beans and peas is highly beneficial for entire horses which have attained the age of five years.
The supply of leguminous seeds to younger entire horses living in stables is attended with danger and is not required if the amount of their work is duly proportioned to their age.
Out of season beans should be promptly and entirely discontinued, and the allowance of oats reduced. The substitution of boiled barley for all or part of the oat ration is a salutary and agreeable change.
Whenever good grass or tares are obtainable, they should be given. At other times pulped roots and chops must constitute a considerable proportion of the daily food. Upon no account should wheat be given, in or out of season; its otherwise good stimulative properties are overbalanced by the predisposition it founds to attacks of laminitis, and other congestive diseases.
Many persons have a particular inclination for physicking their stallions with all sorts of glandular excitants—a most reprehensible practice, which eventually must result in producing debility of the organs repeatedly stimulated.
Healthy animals require no medicine; condition in them may be established and maintained by intelligently applied alterations in the quantity and quality of their food and labor.
To check a tendency to plethora, an occasional dose of cathartic medicine is beneficial, but its action must be rationally supplemented by dietetic and hygienic adjuncts. The administration of aphrodisiac agents, too frequently employed by ignorant horse leader’s unknown to their masters, should be most severely discounted.
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