Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Meanest thoroughbred stallions ever...

We are a culture that loves "best of" and "worst of" lists. Recently the thoroughbredchampions.com bulletin board had a thread/discussion on who were the meanest stallions in history. What a fun read! Here are the worst of the worst from that thread. No doubt there are other evil studs that weren't mentioned. Do you know of any?

The baddest boys in racing

What is funny is that in reading through the discussions of these dangerous stallions, so many casual on-lookers describe the horses as being innocent-looking as they stand at the paddock gate. Many unsuspecting or foolish passers-by have lost body parts because they either didn't read, weren't forewarned, or didn't listen.

Bad boys in action
Sometimes pictures capture the badness, sometimes they don't.




Grey Sovereign


Close up of Grey Sovereign's head. Look at all the hardware!

Devil His Due. Naughty naughty.

Seeking the Gold



Dynaformer looking all sweet and innocent (don't believe it)
[picture from Ballerina on TBchampions.com]
BTW, can we say "over at the knee?"


59 comments:

  1. Wow, that was fun reading. I guess I have been really lucky with the stallions I have worked around!

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  2. Supposedly, my horse's (Toby's) sire, Pappa Riccio had a really bad reputation...dangerous biter, etc. His offspring often inherited his temperament too. Story was he either threw really bad ones, or really good ones. My Toby is a true gentleman, fortunately for me, although he does have flashes of temperament now and then.

    He is definitely a alpha horse and will not tolerate a challenge from another horse. But, bless his heart, my vet calls him "The Prince," and the name suits him when he's being handled.

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  3. LOL, I'll bet there's a list of nasty mares out there too! Mine was sure a mean girl!

    Too bad temper isn't an important characteristic when breeding race horses. It would improve their lives after the track if they weren't superstars if they have a good disposition.

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  4. Some of those stories are brutal.
    One of the mares at work is a nasty piece of work, she took a chuck out of one of the grooms face once, and she would lunge at you when you walked past her box. The funny thing is, when shes in season shes and absolute sweetheart, but races poorly, when shes at her meanest she races her best.

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  5. My heart is breaking that Devil His Due is a bad boy. I loved that he was a hard knocking hard trying horse. I wonder if hard working horses seem to be the meanest of the bunch, limited turnout, pumped full of grain, and stallions don't get the interaction with other horses that they need to stay sane.
    I worked a breeding farm with TBs and SBs, and the TBs were the higher strung of the stallions, but only one was a biter, but usually strangers were the target. The SBs were just big puppy dogs wanting scratches and carrots.

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    1. ive met devil his due on a few occasion, including just a few weeks ago. Margaux stud said just the opposite, thats hes NOT got the halo fire. i believe them if for no other reason then i was allowed to and did feed him peppermints and the groom had no concerns about letting me do so, so not sure that he belongs on this list

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  6. We had a big stallion leasing our stall for a while...besides all the biting and lunging he would climb into the feed bin, try to climb out of the stall, and all these other crazy antics. Boy was I thankful when his owners finally gelded him lol.

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  7. He may not have been the meanest stallion ever, but he was no angel... Jet Pilot, a horse on my mare's pedigree, topped off his Kentucky Derby win by... kicking a policeman in the pants.

    http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,855684,00.html

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  8. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvjULYAZNUs

    Makes me sad to see so many bad boys. I wonder what got them to that state. I saw this amazing video clip featuring Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling. He seems to have quite a following and I like the way he works.

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  9. That was fascinating. Thanks for the compiling all those tid-bits.
    Has anyone ever heard of a bad standardbred stallion?
    I love Grey Sovereign - he looks mellow in the photo but the hardware shows his potential.
    My mother met War Admiral in the 40's and she said he was very sullen and quick to anger.

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    1. He got that from his great granddsire, Hastings. It seems that trait was passed from sire to son for several generations.
      Hastings>Fair(?) Play>Man O War>War Admiral. Another of Man O Wars sones War Relic, I think, was very, very bad. Made War Admiral look like a puppy.

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    2. I went to Morrisville State College for about two months and they had a Standardbred stud named Cash Hall who had a hell of a reputation. We were not allowed anywhere near him.

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  10. I remember Devil His Due!

    Huh, I thought, historically, Man O' War was known for being a very nasty bit of work, and passing on his bad attitude to most of his get.

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  11. This is crazy, who on earth would keep a horse like that around!?

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  12. It makes me nuts listening to all the excuses and allowances people make for "studly behavior"; there aren't any. We bred our Lady to a gorgeous paint stud with an amazing temperament (the main reason we picked him). Every last one of his babies has the same easygoing and friendly demeanor.

    I've watched Kempfling's video too Wolfie; he's awesome! (the DVD is on my wish list, but I do have his book: "Dancing With Horses").

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    1. Don't talk Bull...t some times yeah a horse is bullish due to bad handling, u have to see that a stallion is territorial and full of testosterone. Sure if you are a good handler you can avoid and control the animal. But at the end of the day a horse is an individual who can snap at any moment, you can breed the temperament out but then you wouldn't have had some of the best horses from recent past, and also there is more money at risk in thoroughbreds that you dont get in paint horses.

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  13. Nevele Pride was a standardbred, but I think Standardbreds are known for a calmer temperaments in general?

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  14. Wonder how much of that came with the horse and how much was put into the horse by mistreatment? Since temperament isn't taken into account with breeding racehorses, that's what you get.

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  15. I suspect they were confined a lot during their racing career, which can't have helped. Still, some of these guys are just bad to the bone.

    The thread also talks about nasty mares a little, at least they can't add that quickly to the gene pool.

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  16. I read the biography on Man O' War and he was a doll to his grooms and jockeys, it was his grand sire, Hastings who was the devil, see above, and father-Fair Play, who was also difficult. But as for MOW he was relative good for a stallion. And prob the greatest racehorse of all time considering he on every single race but 1-and he was sick when he ran that one. PLus he was never let loose fully-always ran with his head tucked to his chest. Crazy awesome!

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  17. I don't begrudge a stallion attitude, but I draw the line at out-and-out aggression toward humans. Spinning World makes me think of Hannibal Lecter. It scares me to think that the handler has a billy club -- the thought that his handlers/owners/managers allow it. It's not like the riding crop that you carry so that the horse sees it (and therefore you never have to use it). It must have been recognized that the guy might actually have to use it!

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  18. I just have to say that thank goodness at least one owner realized that the risk of passing on such aggressive temperment may not be worth it, kudos to the owners of Festival of Light for gelding him!

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  19. Thanks for the info on Nevele Pride - that's the first bad tempered SB sire I've heard of in a breed renowned for being calm and kind. Nevele Pride was not a fertile sire, so he didn't have much chance to pass on his crankiness.
    We have to make some allowance for how the stallions are kept, and how it can warp their natural behavior & territorial agression, but we all know some horses are just MEAN. John Henry was gelded due to his temperament and he was crabby even in old age. So many TB's are total sweethearts, in spite of some "evil" stallions (and a few mares). Something is working out OK.

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  20. I like the anecdote about a groom who said Dynaformer made him "cry like a girl". Yikes!

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  21. Wow, I had no idea some stallions could be so mean! ::shivers::

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  22. Makes you wonder why they're so mean....I've never seen a horse come out that way. Of course, maybe I'm just spoiled (or lucky). All I know is I sure would never breed to something with that kind of temperament, regardless of how much they win.

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  23. Meanwhile, over at the dairyman's blog, is there a list of the meanest dairy bulls? And at the sheepman's blog, a list of the "buttingest" rams?

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  24. Speaking of Dynaformer "looking all sweet", check this lovely photo:
    http://tinyurl.com/y88qdl5

    Here is the photographer's blog:
    http://rockandracehorses.wordpress.com/

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  25. I know this is an old post, so it's probably too late to comment, but I can't resist. I knew one of the so-called 'meanest stallions ever' personally. We stood Catrail at the end of his breeding career (he passed away at 20 a couple of years ago). I don't know how he was handled in his former life, before he came to us, but a savage he was not! A stallion, yes, and I have a healthy respect for any stallion, but he was certainly not vicious when we had him and I hate hearing people say how mean he was. When we got him we didn't know he was meant to be nasty, and would never had know had we not come across it on some website forum. Go figure! I can't help but think that how horses are handled and the environments they live in have a huge effect on their temperaments. I can only be satisfied to know the 'Cat' lived his last years in a large paddock, in sight of other horses (not isolated like so many stallions) was handled by empathetic humans and respected for the magnificent creature he was.

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    1. I have a daughter of Catrail and she is lovely. Takes her time to bond, but once bonded she is quite smoochy! Easily stands over 17hh, she is a big ugly mare but she is the half sister to Rocket Power (HK) but her personality is good to work with.

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    2. Met Catrail my self at the Irish National Stud and he was the complete gentleman

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  26. WE MET CATRAIL IN 2000 IN IRELAND. HE IS A COMPLETE GENTLEMAN

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  27. Wow, WATCH YOUR STEP lived in a steel halter, and was killed when he was struck by lightning in his paddock. Mean or not...his name should have been "Tempting Fate." RIP poor boy.

    Your FOB Fren Otherlyn

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  28. couple comments- STORM BIRD- i was at ashford this past november and heardthe horror stories about him. groom told me that one day, he went into the farm managers pffice and said"im going home, because if i dont, one of us, is going to end up dead"..referring to SB.
    HALO- gorgous horse, ironic how many of his descendants appear on the list. what i remember bout halo was i saw him at age 30. he was in a paddock, with a old, worn halter. i asked the groom about it and he said,"we wont go in his paddock anymore, hes gonna wear that halter, in that paddock till he dies"

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  29. Many folk seem to question why bother to breed from a stallion that can be aggressive. Answer is simple in as much as if you are breeding a coloured horse, then you can pick and choose. However, in the case of racehorses, who would throw out the likes of Woodman and Ribot because of their temperament? As TB stallions get older, their temperament may deteriorate but it may be their latent aggression that made them so effective on the track. Cadoudal was no saint but one of the greatest jump sires of all time. Some of his mares were nasty but his geldings were well behaved. Cyborg was a tartar but he was a very good jumps stallion. Pivotal can be rough with his mares but what a sire he has proved to be. If you did not breed from all the stallions that can be aggressive, you would lose a large part of the gene pool and some of the very best genetic material for producing race horses.Would anyone seriously suggest that Grey Sovereign should not have been used at stud or Dynaformer? The list is endless and there are many excellent stallions past and present whose manners are far from impeccable.

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  30. My first horse was gelded before he met his first mare so he was sweet towards all the animals but my dad and my brother couldn't go into the pasture without me otherwise my gelding wouldn't hesitate to attack them but when he was a colt he bit my dad and dad slugged him one. After that, Blaze hated my dad and never trusted men. He was Quarter Horse, Arabian, American Saddle bred. He ended up being put down because he busted his ankle in a riding accident and the bones wouldn't heal right. there's a youtube video of a girl who broke her neck during a lesson. i fell off the same way and landed the same way but i came out of it with a nasty concussion and road rash my doctor said it was a miracle i lived not to mention no broken bones. My horse stepped on his fron leg with his hind leg and he still had enough love for me to try and get me to the grass before i fell all the way off.

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  31. I cannot believe Devil His Due is a bad boy i met him in Allen Jerkins barn while he raced and had my pics taken with him also met him this July 2011 and fed him a mint and had my pic taken with him he didn't even try to nip at me. The other stallions on the list i never met so i cannot say though i heard horror stories about Halo i just love him though .

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  32. Got to see Dynaformer in the Fall of 2011 at Three Chimneys, and he was extremely well behaved for his groom. He is huge! I've read that but seeing him in person, wow. He's a big boy. I was surprised how calm he was, he never flinched as he was being gawked at and photos taken.

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  33. From all I've heard and read, Round Table was only mean to himself. Had a muzzle so he wouldn't bite at himself, but not particularly mean to people.

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  34. Just wondering if all of these horses were born "bad" or made through unprofessional handling. If a young horse behaves in an aggressive or "playfull" way and gets a particular response it very quickly learns to repeat it ? Foals should always be treated as horses and not cute babies as it is often when this bad behaviour starts.They need to learn to respect humans and stay out of their space , it worries me when you see photos of small foals with their feet up on peoples shoulders !

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    1. I work as an Equine Midwife with TB's. I can tell you that even newborn foals can have an attitude. All the foals were handled from birth. Some were just very high strung, with attitudes. I found the STORM CAT related horses to be some of the worse. BUT not all of the "Cat" related horse were bad actors.

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  35. Im so happy all the stallions iv worked with were sweethearts, just massive animals..gotten knocked over by some....

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  36. I'm surprised to see that John Henry isn't on this list. He was a notorious grouch. Also, Arch at Claiborne is said to be pretty mean. Apparently, he has people he likes, and others he doesn't. My friend got bit by After Market at Lane's End, but it was her own fault for sticking her arm into a stallion's stall... especially a stallion sired by Storm Cat, who is known for siring grouchy horses!

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  37. had a very vicious stallion he killed two men,turns out he had Angina from being over trained,he was fine most of the time except on cloudy days as he got very moody.One man was lunging him the other was his farrier.

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  38. I have worked with many stallions in the wild or/and paddock serving situations as well as some of the better Tb. I could relay many stories of stallions that have injured or killed people and also many of stallions that have never caused a problem. Fortunatly my father instilled in me many years ago never to trust a stallion, even a quiet one. I believe it is a fact of nature and applies to all males in most animals and sadly even humans. There is no doubt that envirement has a big infulence and those who don't know how to address the problem only make it worse. The SB, Bye Bye Bird was one of the most dangerous stallions I have seen.

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  39. You have the wrong Sir Tristram link up there, this is the naughty one: http://www.pedigreequery.com/sir+tristram

    I went to see Devil His Due and they said he was a tough horse but he wasn't vicious, he was handled like any other stallion.

    I also read that Round Table was only a problem to himself, if he didn't wear a muzzle he would self mutilate.

    In Tissar should be included, they built a special chute system so they wouldn't have to handle him at all. http://www.pedigreequery.com/in+tissar

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  40. Dynaformer wasn't over at the knee I'm fairly certain, it was arthritis and old age that made him stand that way :)

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  41. Tapit is no Thewell either.

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  42. Great story -- but don't forget to credit the photographers for their work!
    The photo of Grey Sovereign was taken by Eclipse Award winning photographer, Barbara Livingston.
    Thanks!

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  43. I am surprised that STORM CAT did not make the list. I did not know the stallion personally but I worked with many of his offspring who were hard to deal with from birth. Foals were born with attitude. They were raised right and treated well, I know this as I worked with the mares and foals. I was told they get the temperament from Storm Cat. If I ever see a new "Cat" come to the farm I will use caution until I know the horse for itself. (there are nice "Cats" too)

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  44. Alleged had two stud chains on his door when we saw him, along with a serious whip. I'm sure John Henry would be listed if he were a stallion. I've met Dynaformer kids, they're usually fine, and no, he wasn't over at the knee, so in his case, the temperament wasn't passed on. I've met many nicely tempered tb stallions, but they're still stallions, which means unpredictable. In general, I don't pet stallions unless I'm invited to do so. Danzig was fine when I was petting him, though. One that's not mentioned was discussed in Country Life Diary, can't remember his name, but they sold him to another farm because he was considered too dangerous - Lyphard kid, maybe Lycius or something like that. Serena's Song, among mares, has a horrible reputation, but I have a photo of her leaning her head against me, completely relaxed.

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  45. War Relic He was mad and bit a grooms arm nearly off

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  46. Heard Kennedy Road tried to "eat" is groom at one time....

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  47. We have had some average TB stallions here, but our senior stallion Artrageous (Artax son) is the kindest, happiest boy anyone can imagine - both at eventing shows, standing at show ingates, or living with his pregnant mares. I think the TB stallion attitude is often the fact that they are forced to live alone after they are yearlings. Our boy has 3 jobs - handcovering TB mares (or being collected on a phantom for non-TB semen shipping), working under saddle or over jumps, and ponying our youngsters up our dirt road in a Western saddle. He loves children and his babies. We feel very fortunate to have him as part of our family.

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  48. I am surprised to hear about Serena's Song. I 'met' her at the Lukas' barn when she shipped in for a stakes at Monmouth Park. She had such a sweet angelic face that I fell heads of heels over her! She let me pet her over and over and she kept nuzzling me being playful with her head until I was told to get lost (in a friendly way) and let her rest after her long van ride. Such a sweetie was Serena's Song! Halo almost killed a friend of mine who went down to see him in Maryland in the late 1970s.

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  49. We saw Halo about a month or so before he passed away. The farm manager actually told us he was "too mean to die." Didn't say he'd ever hurt anyone, but did pin a worker to the ground. He wore a metal basket the day we saw him.

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  50. law society is said to be the most dangeous stallion coolmore have ever stood

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  51. I've worked with several thoroughbreds OTT in a dressage capacity. We had a boy who was out to kill me on the ground every time I handled him ( a big money winner), but lovely under saddle, and another (my favorite, a total sweetie pie) who had manners ground and under saddle who raced 6 times and won nothing. After researching their pedigrees, I found the aggressive horse had four lines to Nasrullah, and the sweet boy one, and several lines to Native Dancer. Just curious?

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  52. I have a TB mare named Pouncer (really is her racing name!). Her sire is Cat's Career. She has the nasty Nasrullah also. She is mercurial, either very loving and soft, or tries to bite when you turn your back, and can cowkick like a crazy woman. She will never be bred as she's a rescue, now my saddle horse. I love her and won't let her go to anyone else or be ridden by anyone else. Have to keep an eye out and your elbows handy. If I were running from a threat, she's bold and fast and I'd want to be on her! I'm not an expert, but she's not for the faint of heart.

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