STALLIONS CAN BE PETS TOO!
*In this blog we are not encouraging keeping stallion donkeys. Gelding is necessary to stop irresponsible breeding but we would just like to offer some literature on positives about stallions.*
‘STALLION’ - an uncastrated male equine, over the age of four. Often referred to as a Jack donkey.
‘COLT’ - an uncastrated male equine, under the age of four. ‘GELDING’ - a castrated male donkey.
In the donkey community we feel there is an unfair bias against stallions and we would like to offer some evidence to the contrary. There is a lot of generalisation about stallions, which we feel is a disservice to our lovely boys. On the farm we currently have two stallions (Rummy and Pongo) and three colts (Othello, Mumford and Sonny). Rummy is our breeding stallion and displays the most typically ‘stallion-like’ tendencies; territorial amongst new animals, excitement around mares in season, and showing dominance towards other donkeys. Some donkey advice online says you must keep stallions away from other donkeys, that they will just fight and be badly behaved. However if you take any donkey and keep it in a stable on its own, of course it will seem agitated or perhaps ‘badly behaved’. No donkey is inherently bad or dangerous, it is all in how they are treated by their owners and the environment in which they are raised. If you treat a donkey with fear and treat it like it is dangerous - donkeys are highly intelligent and will respond to your emotions! To give our donkeys as natural a life as possible we mimic the type of groupings donkeys would have in the wild. We keep our stallions and colts in a bachelor herd - there are no females and thus there is not much of a hierarchy, for there is nothing to fight over. The oldest stallion, Rummy is the alpha but he does not have to defend his position as the leader as he would if he were in the wild.
One of the only places we have heard positive things about entire male donkeys is old rural Ireland. At agricultural shows where we would take our donkeys we have older farmers interested in the donkeys more so than other people. They ask us questions in the training and the general husbandry of them - as much knowledge about donkeys is inherited so everyone does it slightly differently. These Irish farmers are sometimes genuinely confused at the idea of a gelding - they see it as taking the spirit out of them by castrating the donkey. An old Irish Proverb,
‘May the frost never afflict your spuds,
May the leaves of your cabbage always be free from worms,
May the crows never pick your haystack,
And if you inherit a donkey, may she be in foal’.
You can’t have a mare in foal without a stallion!
Stallion horses are readily shown with little fear, perhaps just a little more caution - donkey stallions in the show ring are regarded with fear even from their own handlers. Some shows have rules that only over-eighteens may show a donkey stallion - regardless of the handlers’s competency or the temperament of the stallion. Over ten years ago at a show, Robert was unable to show Kinedale Peanut (who has since been gelded) as he was only twelve. Instead Richard was sent into the stallion class. Richard and Peanut were the only ones entered - and they didn’t even come first as Peanut was so badly behaved!!!!! Richard was unable to control Peanut and as soon as he left the ring he gave the unruly donkey to twelve-year old Robert… who then beautifully trotted the donkey back to the trailer. Peanut was used to Robert and his training and thus respected him, his age making no difference to how well he could handle the animal.
We hope we have educated you a little on donkeys and help you unpack some bias you may have picked up from the equine community. Not all stallions are bad, and they can make excellent pets.