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Most Horse Owners Choose to Geld Their Stallions, but Is It Necessary?

Even routine procedures can be stressful for both horse and owner.

The popular school of thought on gelding in the horse community is that every stallion that is not a breeding animal should absolutely be gelded. Gelding a horse simply means castrating him. Is it really always necessary? 

The anticipation and immediate process is always stressful for animal and owner. It’s minor surgery done right at your home, but any surgery on a horse usually gets horse owners a bit worried. Castration has been done for many years and the process has improved. Most of the time all goes well and it’s no big deal, but sometimes there are complications and the stress level rises greatly, if not for the horse, certainly for the owner. 

Gelding a horse isn’t much different than neutering a dog or cat, except the vet comes to you. The animal is sedated, then small incisions are made in the scrotum and the testicles are popped out, tubes and veins severed and closed, and voila, your stallion is now a gelding.

I have had textbook-easy experiences with the gelding process, but to see my horses lying on the ground completely out of it is just unnatural. Oh sure, they lay down to rest from time to time normally, but are ever aware of their surroundings. Horses only sleep about five minutes a day, so they are never really “out of it” unless they are sedated.

Once the process is complete, the vet waits with you for the horse to be awake enough to stand upright, then leaves. You are left with getting the horse back to his corral, keeping an eye on him and getting rid of the material (and body parts) left from the surgery. Not something for the faint of heart. 

Cool water and walking is prescribed post operation and it’s something you must follow through on. The cool water and slow exercise help in healing and really reduce the swelling in the area of the surgery. No riding your freshly gelded horse for a few weeks, and after that you need to start out slowly and for short periods of time. 

Stallions can be difficult to manage and handle, but it’s not always the case. In reality, any horse can be . Many people believe you must geld your horse to make him safe to handle and ride. Horses have personalities and they vary from the timid and shy to the aggressive, from the soft natured to the athletic and energetic and everything in between.

Not everyone believes that every stallion should become a gelding by age 2. A friend of mine owns and rides a stallion, and he’s a great horse. He hollers at times searching for females, but then, my female mustang hollers sometimes too, looking for other horses that may be in the area.

The beautiful paint horse is calm and sweet and I enjoy riding with the two guys (owner and horse) just as I do any of my gal pals and their mares or geldings. Most group rides do not allow people to ride stallions along with them. In the case of my gentleman friend and his stallion, I think it may be the reaction of other horses to the stud that is an issue and I don’t know that everyone thinks of that possibility. 

My horse Cricket is fine around the stallion. She didn’t react any differently to him than she has to any other horse she meets for the first time, and now that they have become more familiar they are comfortable together, as is the case with Cricket and each horse she meets, stallion or not.

On the other hand, the pheromones given off by a stallion can make some horses a little nuts. Some get edgy out of fear and others become focused on him for other hormonal reasons. The edginess makes some horse owners nervous, which can make for an unsafe situation.

Besides that, some horse owners hear “stallion” and are automatically freaked out because of the reputation of them being aggressive, which tends to make their horse freaked out—it just works that way with horses. All they know is that their owner is scared, so they become afraid too.

So, the two guys must limit their riding in crowds. They are always polite in asking if it’s OK to have the stud around unfamiliar folks. 

Gelding your stallion is a personal choice. Each of us holds our own opinion on the matter and has our own experiences.

Marcy September 18, 2011 at 01:26 AM
I just came across your article on "gelding vs. not". I have been a professional in the horse industry in excess of 35 years and I must say that it is IMPERATIVE that stallions are gelded unless they are managed solely by very experienced riders and handlers. Yes, they are all individuals, but they do have an inate desire to breed and challenge and be agressive by nature. They can never be handled without utmost regard and responsibility. I have seen many docile stallions ridden successfully in competitive and recreational situations and I have seen horrible accidents happen when they have been mishandled by inexperienced owners and grooms. PLEASE do not take this lightly. There is a reason why most stables will not "board" stallions. It is a liability and negligent in the wrong environment. Geld your stallions unless you are an extremely experienced horseman/woman and are 100% confident of your ability to handle any horse in any situation. RANT COMPLETE!

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