By Frank J. Buchman
“Every colt born is not necessarily a stallion.”
Most everybody raising a horse colt has some sort of envision that it will become a renowned breeding stallion.
There are rare exceptions when that dream becomes reality, yet generally those horses are made into geldings.
Prerequisites for a male colt becoming a producer of future generations widely vary among owners, expectations and philosophies.
Three renowned Quarter Horse breeders have opinions about considerations determining whether a prospect is potential to become a prolific stallion.
Stan Weaver, Big Sandy, Montana; Pete Becker, Ashby, Nebraska; and Billy Cogdell, Tulia, Texas, know an ideal stud prospect.
With more than 120 combined years of experience in the breeding industry, the horsemen also know they seldom find one.
With castrations performed at about a year of age, the breeders have limited time to scrutinize for ideal stallion prospects. So they developed criteria to help them make quick decisions.
Main characteristics for a stallion, the three horsemen agreed, are pedigree, mind, conformation, and athleticism.
“The most important thing about keeping a stallion is the pedigree,” Weaver declared “They have to be closely related to a horse that’s done something. You want a son or grandson, not too far away from the top bloodlines.”
“First thing I look for in a colt to keep for a stallion is a good mind and disposition. That’s first priority for me,” Becker said.
Conformation is of high importance. “A stallion must have straight legs, nice hips and shoulder, pretty head, clean neck and a kind eye,” Becker said. “An ideally conformed horse is hard to come by.”
Still, a stallion must be an athlete, the horsemen readily agreed. “Horses were made to work, and they must be athletic to perform at whatever discipline they are expected,” Weaver said.
“Pedigree to is a good predictor of strong candidates to carry on ability,” Cogdell said. “Watch the colt as it grows up. I look at the head, hips, short back, low hocks and good feet. Ornery and rowdy colts are weeded out. There is no room for stallions that will pass on bad attitudes.”
Around weaning time, most breeders have a fairly good idea which colts could make stallion prospects. But that doesn’t mean they don’t change their minds. On a few occasions, even these breeders say they regretted a decision or two.
“Several times, I looked back and thought I should have kept that one I made into a gelding,” Becker admitted. “We all learn from our mistakes.”
Cogdell and Weaver agreed. “I have made some mistakes over the years by cutting a colt that I wished I hadn’t,” Cogdell said.
“I gelded a lot of really good horses,” Weaver echoed. “But in most cases, we used them as ranch horses. If they were stallions, you couldn’t use them in a lot of the same situations. I truly haven’t regretted gelding any of them.”
The three breeders also agreed on the importance of keeping the stallion pool small and strong.
“There are a lot of horses being kept as stallions that really shouldn’t be,” Weaver said. “Everybody has their own opinions, but you want to keep improving on the bloodlines.
“Everybody wants to stand a stallion, but every colt born is not necessarily a stallion,” Weaver continued. “There are so many good horses out there nowadays that you don’t need to mess around with the bad ones.”
It’s important to eliminate undesirable characteristics from a gene pool. “We don’t need horses with irritable attitudes and conformation flows,” Becker said. “Horses must have good minds and dispositions because they are more trainable and work better.”
There are so many studs around that “a real good gelding can be worth more money than a stud that’s not doing too much,” Cogdell said. “A stallion must prove himself in the winner’s circle to be a profitable investment”
While a good stallion can bring in more money than a gelding, it is harder to sell them because the market is limited. “Most people prefer to ride a gelding than a stallion, unless it is going into a breeding program,” Weaver concluded.
While horse breeders often dream their next male colt will become a top breeding stallion, most are made into working geldings.