Gelding a horse

Stallions are often impressive to behold because of their sturdy build and strong muscles. These external features develop under the influence of the hormone testosterone. This hormone is also responsible for the stallion’s behaviour. You can think of dominance, neighing and roaring, getting distracted by mares and fighting other horses. Of course there are well-behaved and less well-behaved stallions, but often the choice is made to geld the stallion. Especially when he has no added value for breeding and/or sport. A gelding has the advantage that he usually has a more social life. He can be turned out with other horses and housing a gelding is usually also be less of a problem (not every stable wants to keep stallions). We will answer a number of questions about the gelding process in this article. 


At what age can you geld a stallion? 

In practice you see that most stallions are gelded between 1 and 2 years old. You can also choose to geld the horse later, between 3 and 4 years old. If you geld the horse later, he will have developed more of a stallion’s appearance, such as the broad neck and jawline, but he may also retain more stallion behaviour. Stallions are often gelded in the spring, because fewer insects are present than in summer. 


How is a stallion gelded? 

You can have your stallion gelded in different ways. The vet checks beforehand whether the testicles have descended and whether there are no intestines in the scrotum. This determines the method he will use. You can choose to have your stallion gelded at home or at a clinic. The advantage of the clinic is that it is clean and safe to work, reducing the risk of complications. 


In general, a distinction is made between uncovered, semi-covered and covered castration. An uncovered castration is usually performed standing, with the stallion being given a local anaesthetic. In this method, a cut is made in the scrotum of the testicle and the testicle is brought out. Do you want to know exactly how a stallion’s reproductive system works? Then the spermatic cord (connection between the testicle and the body) is bruised, tied and cut and the testicle can be removed. The cuts in the scrotum are not sutured so that the wound fluid can drain. The advantage of this method is that it is quick, inexpensive and can be performed at home. The big disadvantage is that the chance of infections is high. Because there is an open connection with the abdominal cavity, an infection of the wound can lead to peritonitis. 


A semi-covered castration is very similar to an uncovered castration, except that the horse is put under a general anaesthetic. The operation is therefore performed lying down. Subsequently, an incision is made in the scrotum where the testicle is brought out. Not only the spermatic cord is now tied off, but also the membrane that comes out of the abdominal wall. The advantage of this is that there is no open connection with the abdominal cavity. Then the testicle is cut and removed. The cuts in the scrotum are not sutured and will close on their own. Because the horse is under anaesthesia during this procedure, the vet can pay close attention to hygiene and safety, reducing the risk of infections. 


Covered castration is performed in the same way as semi-covered under anaesthesia and lying down, but the procedure works differently. Instead of removing the testicles through the scrotum, they are removed through the groin. Two small cuts are made in the groin and through this the spermatic cords and testicles are brought out. Then, as with the semi-covered castration, the spermatic cord and part of the membrane are tied off and the testicles are removed. The cuts in the groin are sutured. The advantage of this method is that there is a very small risk of complications. It is also a good method for gelding older, more mature stallions. 


How do I care for my horse after gelding? 

The aftercare that the recently gelded horse needs is partly dependent on the method used. The horses that have been under anaesthesia will need some time to recover and recuperate. It is always important to keep a close eye on the wound to ensure that no swelling occurs. One way to prevent wound swelling is to keep the horse in light movement, preferably in a pasture. A paddock or box is less ideal, because sand and dirt can easily get into the wound. It is also important to monitor your horse’s temperature. Is the wound swollen, does your horse have an elevated temperature or do you notice other complications? Always contact your vet. After the gelding procedure, the vet will give you more information and advice about the aftercare of your newly minted gelding. 



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