It sounds like you are very lucky to have found a stallion with such a great temperament. With your show schedule, you will be taking him to many different environments, and although he demonstrates perfect qualities at home, there are factors at shows that may “bring out the stallion in him.”
I don’t think it’s a matter of treating him badly, but rather, a safety and control issue. Proper use of a chain shank, over the nose, is not treating him badly, and will give you an added safety margin, should a situation present itself where you need way more control than a regular lead will give you. I have been in many situations with geldings where I wished I had more control. First day at horse shows can easily bring out unusual behavior in many normally quiet horses.
Feeding him cookies from your hand would seem okay to me unless it starts to encourage some undesirable traits like nipping. Keep an eye on this. I agree on not using a stall guard for a stallion. It’s just not a safe enough barrier should he want out. If you want him to hang his head out, I would invest in a tall screen door and if he is okay hanging his head out, get one with a yoke. That is a much safer door. You don’t want him to get loose on the grounds and nether does anyone else.
I agree with you and don’t think you should always treat him as if he were going to be bad. However, handling a stallion is a responsibility, and you must keep his respect. Don’t be afraid to apply the proper discipline when and if he needs it. I would also advise calling a breeder and getting some additional advise on handling stallions. It sounds like you have an easy and fun project. Good Luck!
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