Choosing to Geld the Older Stallion
Thursday 19 January 2012
While many stallion owners would never consider gelding their stallions, sometimes life takes a turn that makes it necessary to consider cutting an older boy. Perhaps they are getting out of breeding, or a stallion turns out not to be capable of producing the quality of offspring desired. Either way, it may become necessary to consider gelding a mature stallion.
A stallion’s life is not easy. Most stallions must live a solitary life, turned out and stabled on their own without equine companionship. Some get along with other horses reasonably well, but generally stallion owners prefer not to take the chance.
If a stallion is not being bred, there is little point to keeping him a stallion. If anything, it can be considered cruel. Geldings can live happily with other horses, enjoying the herd lifestyle that comes naturally to horses. While a stallion can be turned out with mares, unless they are all in foal, or you want him to breed them, this isn’t an option to the average stallion owner.
Stallions often have behaviours that are less than desirable. Many of these are due to hormones. Additionally, even the best behaved stallions are easily distracted by a mare in season. An additional consideration is that some stallions actually perform at a lower level than they might otherwise be capable of due to their distractibility and their “extra parts” that sometimes get in the way.
Gelding an older stallion has a somewhat higher risk than gelding a youngster. A stallion’s testicles are far more developed and often require a larger incision to remove them. With the larger incision, infection is a higher risk. Some vets prefer to send older stallions to an equine hospital for gelding rather than cutting them on the farm.
The good thing is that an older stallion often improves significantly in behavior after being gelded. Without the hormones playing with his brain, he is better able to cope with situations and is far less likely to react aggressively to geldings.
It takes several months for the hormones to leave the system. Many stallions take time to adjust to being a gelding and some never do learn to cope with being turned out in groups. Some older stallions will continue to show interest in mares after being gelded, going through the motions despite not being able to impregnate the mares.
A well behaved stallion usually makes a well behaved gelding. Some become so relaxed in nature that they can even be considered lazy. Unfortunately, gelding a badly behaved stallion may not do a lot to improve his behavior. This is because the underlying problem is not the hormones, but the horse’s actual temperament, personality, and how well he has been handled. Either way, once gelded, an older stallion is easier to handle than he was as a stallion.
If a stallion is not being used for breeding, or has no purpose as a stallion, it is better to geld him. Many a stallion becomes an excellent gelding after being cut, even going on to be successful children’s mounts. Remember, a nice stallion makes a very nice gelding – so don’t be afraid to cut him.