What to Know About Equine Castration

Unless your colt is gifted with athleticism, talent and genetic greatness that will set him up for a breeding career, you should look at gelding him young. This will make training and keeping him easier, and he will enjoy a better social life (since he can be turned out with other horses, including fertile mares). Your horse vet in Cannon Falls, MN will discuss details with you so you know what to expect and can make informed decisions. However, here is some general information on gelding:

  • When to do it: Owners with zero interest in breeding often castrate foals when they are younger than one year. This results in fewer behavioral issues, and foals bounce back quicker after surgery. Yearlings also have less risk for complications and heal quickly, if an owner wishes to assess a foal’s personality more fully at first. Older stallions take longer to recover, and larger testicles and blood vessels make the surgery more complicated and riskier. There are many possible “right times,” so you should discuss this with your vet.
  • Sedation vs. anesthesia: General anesthesia is risky for horses, and that’s why there’s an option to geld stallions when they are sedated and standing. It often depends on how resistant a horse is to sedation. Untrained and nearly wild horses must be castrated lying down under anesthesia because the risk of them kicking the vet or tools is high. Younger horses whose testicles haven’t entirely descended might also be castrated under general anesthesia. In some ways, standing castration may be safer, but then again, it’s often up to the horse’s drug resistance, training and the vet’s preference.
  • Gelding process: Gelding can be performed at a clinic or at the barn. If it occurs at the barn, vets prefer a grassy field to the bare ground. There’s better footing, and it’s cleaner. If they use the arena, they will lay down a tarp or blanket first. Testicles are removed with an incision on each side and using the closed, open or semi-closed procedure. The closed technique is quicker, but the open technique allows vets to close off blood vessels. Vets decide which procedure based on their preference and your horse’s unique anatomy.
  • Aftercare: It’s important to watch your horse carefully during recovery. Horses should stop bleeding one to two hours after surgery, and vets usually don’t leave the scene until bleeding stops. You may see dripping for up to 12 hours or more, but call your vet if there’s a steady stream of blood. Keep your horse in a stall for the first 12 to 14 hours to ensure blood clotting; running around will not help this. If your horse needs some exercise, hand walk him for a couple of miles. Then, for the two weeks after gelding, lunge your horse for 15 minutes once or twice a day, as this will reduce swelling.

If you seek a horse vet in Cannon Falls, MN, Cannon Veterinary Services Ltd. is here to provide for your horse’s medical needs. Our services include surgery (including gelding), lameness evaluations, pre-purchase exams and preventative health care. Call us today to make an appointment.