A feisty mare, a lazy castrated, a fiery stallion?

Benjamin Werndel
© Tomas Holcbecher / holcbecher.com

“Quality training and education are equally important for everyone”

Jessica von Prideaux Werndel and Benjamin Werndel are probably the most successful tamed siblings. At the Aubenhausen riding facility in Bavaria they train dressage horses to the top of the world, and there is an online training program for jockeys (www.aubenhausen-club.de). Satisfied horses and shows that radiate harmony confirm their path. We asked Benjamin Werndel what he thinks of gender stereotypes.

Mr. Wendell, what do you think are the most important differences in the training of stallions, recruits and mares?
Basically, stallions are sometimes more distracting, which is actually the main difference, and usually the mating is more focused. Mares are very comfortable when they are around you and are usually less impressed with their surroundings. We’ve had very good experiences with mares and we think it’s great to work with them – but also with stallions like Unee BB. In principle, stallions are often easier than you think. Of course, stallions can be environmentally oriented, hence it is often not easy for them to focus on the jockey. We try to put the focus back on the rider with good training. Ground work can also help a lot.

Could you say that mares learn faster, for example in taming, how to change squares in flight?
In our experience, gender has no effect, rather it depends more on the individual horse. We had stallions that learned to change very quickly, and we also had mares, for example Zaire e, which took a little longer – horses simply learn differently. They can be of exactly the same breed and gender – and horses still learn at different speeds. The type of training is also important here. If the type of training is appropriate, the horse will usually learn well and continuously. As a racer, you are required above all else.

Where do you see the differences or priorities in maintaining the sex of horses? What is particularly important?
Here in Oppenhausen, there is no difference, all the horses are out as much as possible, usually three to four times a day. Of course, mating can also be put together from time to time. But with us, each horse usually has its own barn, of course with the neighbors of the paddock. Stallions come with us as they are, have their own pasture and logically do not stand by a mare. With all care, we make sure that stallions are allowed to remain horses, for example, Unee BB goes to the ring every day. But I must add: there are also great differences between stallions, there are highly alert stallions, but there are also well-behaved stallions. And of course it plays a role whether they’re on board or not.

Are you saying you have to be more attuned to stallions or mares than to mating?
In general, I would say that this is the same for all horses. The language of the rider should be clear, and there are rules that the horse and the human follow. A simple example from ground work – which is of course part of our training in Oppenhausen: When I lead a horse, there is my zone which the horse must respect and thus keep a distance from me. This is something you can practice calmly and steadily, but it makes a huge difference in education. If you stick to this and train properly, you’ll work with a stallion, too. Personally, I find it difficult to come to terms with the phrase “dominant horses” – there are usually problems with upbringing behind it. If you work with them logically and calmly, these problems will not arise – regardless of gender.

In your experience, do horses or cattle tend to develop poor manners or behavioral problems if they are improperly trained or poorly trained?
Stallions may react faster. This error may have a faster effect. But you can then debug and train safely. But this is closely related to personality, training and upbringing. Despite all the differences, training and upbringing are crucial. But it is in the nature of things that a stallion is often more self-confident.

In your opinion, is mating really more suitable for amateurs or recreational cyclists?
Not necessarily, here too much depends on the horse. I have already sold stallions to clients who are very pleased with them. In the young riders department, too, it is the all-inclusive package that decides. A stallion can be a wonderful little horse if the right training, handling and management. Unfortunately, a lot of mistakes are made in these areas in particular, and they can have a much more serious impact on the stallion. But I would venture to say that there are many stallions who are simply well-behaved and well-behaved in spite of everything. As are horses in general. However, a stallion may also hinder being a stallion and would be better off if castrated. Especially if he was not bred, the question arises whether he really should remain a stallion.

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