Last Updated on May 17, 2020 by Allison Price
What is Gelding?
The gelding is the removal of both testicles and the epididymis on a male horse. Part of the spermatic cord supplies blood and nerves. It houses the ductus deferens to the testicles.
Veterinarians castrate male horses that are not for breeding. This will make horses easier to manage. Gelding an old stallion may cause aggressive behavior from the animal. This process is most preferred between six months and one year of age.
They sedate the horse and keep it standing to start the procedure. But, it is more usually done under general anesthetic. Complications are common that’s why follow-up care is important. A veterinarian may perform the procedure at the stable or at a veterinary hospital.
Cost of Castration or Gelding In Horses?
The expenses may vary on whether it is performed on-site or inside a clinic… whether general anesthetic’s used, and whether incisions kept open or closed. A doctor’s travel cost is also another factor. Usually, the cost will be anywhere from $100 and up to a few hundred. You can check where you live to see how much you will have to pay.
Although a lot of vets do barn rounds a few times a year, try to time it out than to keep the cost down. Gelding may cost you between $200 to $500.
Why do you need to geld your horse?
Many stablemen think horses perform better after gelding. The operation is usually on a standing sedated horse or under general anesthetic. The procedure can also be open, closed, or semi-closed. Your veterinarian may recommend vaccinating the horse for tetanus before the procedure. The horse is also examined to ensure that both testicles are not descended. It might be then the horse is a cryptoid. If so, then the operation is done inside a veterinary hospital and will need special treatment. The most standard procedure under general anesthesia is a typical, open procedure.
The open procedure includes:
1. Sedating the male horse
2. Injecting intravenous anesthetic to bring the horse down to the ground.
To reduce infections, provide a safe place for the horse to recover from the anesthetic. This treatment is usually at an isolated stable house with a grassy field. Usually, the intravenous anesthetic lasts about 10 minutes. The horse can have two doses of anesthesia during the operation if necessary. But usually, the operation needs one dose only.
The horse is then on his side and the legs moved out of the way. An incision will be made on each testis. The connective tissue is manipulated to reveal the testicles and their structures.
An emasculator, which is a flat blade, crushes and then cuts the sperm cord. The emasculator is then attached to the spermatic cord. It keeps up with crimping and the crushing vessels and duct deferens. This should control the bleeding. In a full-grown horse, crushing the blood supply may not be adequate to control the bleeding. They may need to tie off the vessels and the cord is then cut. Take 4-5 cm with it to ensure that there are no remains of testosterone-producing tissue. The observation site is to ensure hemorrhage does not occur. Testicle and associated tissues are then removed. The procedure will repeat for the other testis.
Standing castrations under sedation may be done if anesthetics are not well tolerated. Halter the horse and secure it high enough for the veterinarian to reach down below. If the horse responds during the gelding, an operation might be underway. It will be impossible to apply a remedy if hemorrhage happens during the operation. The horse will be under anesthetic to get well.
If done in the field, the incision sites kept open for healing alone, and the horse owner may need aftercare. Some owners of horses opt to close the incisions.
When the horse is observed under anesthetic before it recovers… and if possible assist to a standing position, this usually takes 10-20 minutes.
When is The Right Time to Geld Your Horse?
If you’ve already made the decision to geld your horse, then there is no point in waiting. The right time to do so is about when your horse is between six to twelve months. The reason being is because they are still young. Also, it is easy to train an uncastrated horse as well.
At a young age, your horse’s testicular development is off to a great start. It makes it easier for the vet to find your horse’s testicles and castrate them. If the horse is not on the suggested age group, then locating their testicles will be challenging.
Waiting too long can be a problem as well. If you decide to geld your horse too late then behavioral changes can occur. Waiting for your horse to geld for one year can cause stallion-like behavior. It will continue to occur even after you geld your horse.
Once a horse becomes an adult male, gelding becomes more difficult. There will be more blood flow and complications may arise. The younger the horse, the faster it will recover from the procedure, too.
Important Matters to Consider When Gelding Your Horse:
1. Be educated in gelding as it is important to do the process properly. Gelding your horse is not that bad, but you want to make sure that your horse is safe.
2. If sedation for your horse is not well tolerated, opt to conduct a standing castration. Yet, this is not mostly preferred due to the risk of complications.
3. For anesthetic recovery, hemorrhage and infection are potential risks of the castration process.
Steps to take to lower risks:
- Maintaining a secure sterile operation location
- Maintaining that bleeding’s treated
- And checking for signs of infection or hemorrhage on your animal.
4. Gelding horses grow taller as it delays the closing of the growth plate. But, stallions may develop more musculature features. A male horse left to mature can develop musculature. But after gelding, it can still maintain undesirable stallion behaviors.
5. A serious gelding complication occurs when the intestine falls into the scrotal region. This can result in the intestine protruding through the open wounds. Most especially in a castrated horse wherein incisions have not closed. It is a life-threatening emergency that requires urgent veterinary surgery.
6. The omentum of the horse, a fatty, yellow tissue, may also protrude by open incisions. This requires the immediate attention of a veterinarian. But it is not as serious as intestinal protrusion.
7. When your horse seems to have an undescended testis, they’re called cryptorchid. This needs more complex treatment.
What Happens After Gelding Your Horse?
After gelding, you do not want to keep the horse cooped up in its stall all the time. Don’t stress out the horse either. To prevent swelling, you should let the horse walk for at least 20 minutes. This will help the horse recover faster. It will also remove any fluids left in the scrotum after the procedure. Thus, continuous exercise is important.
Do not think of immediate changes in your horse’s behavior after gelding. It actually takes time for the level of testosterone in your horse to decrease. Do not worry if your horse may still be aggressive. Old gelded horses can still exhibit aggressive behavior after the operation. It can still lead to trying to mount mares especially if they were mated before.
I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!