hi - I am considering gelding an older pony (9) for import. I have heard pro and con arguments. I'm not doing it tt save on costs- just not stallion savvy. Any advice?
Posted on Tuesday, January 20, 2004 - 05:25 pm:
I wouldn't be concerned as far as health of the pony to geld him at the age of 9yrs. But be aware of the fact that although gelded, he can still exhibit stallion like behavior for a while. Especially if he had been used for breeding purposes in the past.s
Hmm, perhaps it'd be easier to learn a bit about handling stallions than it would be to castrate him. He's worth more over here intact than he is as a gelding, so it might also be better financially in the long run.
It depends mostly on the horses' training and handling up to this point. We had a stallion we gelded at 6 years and our 11 year old daughter rode and showed him. He was trained to show and behaved. At home he still like to try and move the mares around in the pasture. We also bought a gelding for another daughter that would not settle down or quit screaming at other horses. Found out that he had been used for a stud horse and then gelded and sold without telling us. He had no training as a stallion, so as a gelding he was untrained and was not suitable for us. He was sold to a man who had experience with stallions and was able to train him. Of course disposition plays a big part in it too, but training is the main thing. If you have no experience with stallions and do not intend to use this horse as a breeding animal, the safest thing you can do for yourself is to geld him. Stallions require special fencing and care also and many a lawsuit has been caused by a stallion getting out and breeding the wrong mare.
Shelia makes a good point above. Castrating an untrained stallion is not going to result in a trained gelding! Many people find that proper training is a more effective and appropriate response to a horse than surgical procedures.
What is the standard age range that colts are gelded? What is too early and what are the drawbacks of too early? ....will they really not develop physically as fully?
SbMP Posted From: 126.96.36.199
Posted on Tuesday, July 06, 2004 - 02:27 pm:
You can only geld when both testicles have descended so it depends on the animal as to how early it is done . CASTRATING a colt will sometimes induce physical maturity and growth as the animal is not expending as much energy on testosterone related matters!
D.Spink, surely you do not advocate keeping an animal entire just on financial grounds?The initial poster has said that he is not stallion material therefore he SHOULD be gelded.There are far too many colts/stallions retained and bred from, therefore producing inferior quality stock. A gelding is better than a poor quality stallion any day.
Anonymous Posted From: 188.8.131.52
Posted on Tuesday, July 06, 2004 - 11:21 pm:
SbMP ..or anyone else.... say both of the colt's testicles are down and can be felt at 2 months old. I guess it can be done now (gelding him), but what is the AVERAGE age most people geld a colt?
Anonymous Posted From: 184.108.40.206
Posted on Thursday, July 22, 2004 - 01:55 am:
actually from what i understand from the original poster it isn't that his pony isn't a quality stallion it is that the poster isn't himself familiar with stallions and their handling.
Sandy Posted From: 220.127.116.11
Posted on Thursday, July 22, 2004 - 04:50 pm:
I don't think there is an "average" age. But I would say that if the colt's testicles are totally down at 2 months of age, then you can do it at anytime. My vet has always recommended waiting until the fly season is over however. I have always gelded my colts the spring of their yearling year. But some people will geld them after weaning because they say that the colt is already exhibiting stallion-like behaviors and they don't want it getting out of control. I really think it just depends on the individual owner and/or horse as to a good age to geld. As for whether or not the colt will develop fully if castrated very young, my personal opinion is that they don't. But I've been told by numerous people that that is an old wives tale. So, who really knows? But I still do not geld them until their yearling year.
Anonymous Posted From: 18.104.22.168
Posted on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 11:46 pm:
i have read that some horses are gelded within the first 3 weeks after birth. that way the mare is there for comfort and to help exersize the colt. there is supposed to be less swelling or drainage than with an older colt. and it was suggested that colts castrated young grow taller by an inch or 2(how to prove the connection?) i believe its because less energy is expended in gaining muscle mass and such.there is a slightly greater chance of scrotal hernia.
Responding, after some delay while we've been up to our elbows in the breeding season and showjumping competition this summer, to several comments by "SbMP."
1. Would I recommend against performing an elective surgical procedure on a horse if, among other things, the procedure would likely decrease the market value of the horse in the future? You bet! I'd recommend people not cut the ears, tail, or eyelids off of horses as well. . . these are all more extreme examples of elective surgery that would certainly decrease the "market value" of any horse subjected to them.
2. I must point out the obvious logical fallacy of the old canard that "there are too many stallions and they are producing inferior-quality babies so the solution is to castrate more of them." This might, hypothetically, be a credible argument if all of our stallions and mares roamed free in the countryside, breeding each other essentially at random. However, at least in my neck of the woods, this isn't how we do things! ;-)
Mare owners CHOOSE which stallion to breed to. They use lots of criteria to make these choices. Collectively, their decisions comprise what we refer to as the "stallion marketplace." An inferior-quality stallion who does not produce well will, in time (and given sufficiently effective propogation of accurate information on which the market makes its choices) have no more breedings when mare owners choose other stallions. Note that there is not logical correlation between this process and more (or less) castration of male horses.
Again, hypothetically, one could argue that some entity should decide which stallions are "stallion quality" and mandate castration of the rest of the male horses (this is how it was done for centuries in Germany, incidentally). This, theoretically, services to protect mare owners from making bad decisions. Put another way, it assumes mare owners can't make effective choices on their own, and some governmental or quasi-governmental agency can make better choices than the marketplace at large.
In sum, this is a flavor of socialistic or communistic logic. Last time I checked, most folks have concluded that these top-down, non-market, force-backed attempts to coerce behavior just don't work. Not only that, but they tend quite quickly to slide down the slope towards fascism or totalitarianism.
In sum, well-informed and choosy mare owners are a far better mechanism for improving breeding by choosing strong stallions than is some sort of forced sterilization/castration program.
If castrating the vast majority of male horses was a magic cure for improving breeding practice overall, then we'd assume that North American breeders would be head and shoulders above every other region, in all breeds. For, here, the absolutely overwhelming majority of male horses are castrated. Conversely, we'd expect Andalusian/Lusitano breeding in Portugal and Spain to be an absolute, total wreck since many owners there eschew castration in favor of keeping their male horses "in one piece" and breeding for temperament and trainability that makes this easy for even the novice to accomplish.
Of course, the actual data are just the reverse of this prediction. To wit, near-ubiquitous practice of castration of male horses has shown no ability to improve modern sport horse breeding, ceteris paribus. If someone has contrary data to support that argument, I'd most certainly love to see them and discuss!
3. The statement that "CASTRATING a colt will sometimes induce physical maturity and growth" is not only not supported by any empirical data, it is also not supported by commonsense nor by simple logic. There is no way to "induce" maturity in any horse. Maturity comes from the overall stabilization of their body and mind as they reach adult stage. No known drug, nor the act of cutting off bodyparts, can "induce" maturity any more than either can "induce" old age.
Male horses have evolved over millions of years a system of physical development that includes as a small but significant part the impact of androgenic hormones produced primarily in the reproductive system. By definition, this process "works" in that the entire organism that is the male horse is an evolutionarily functional and stable unit. Evolution does not move towards body processes or functions that "waste" energy, per a conjugate of the Second Law of thermodynamics.
This is no less true of mares than of stallions. Were nearly every filly ovarectomized at a young age, there's be far-ranging consequences to their physical developement."Good?" "Bad?" Well, in any case they'd be by definition a destabilization of the overall, holistic system that the filly has developed through evolution to bring her from a two-celled blastocyte to an adult, healthy, happy, functioning mare.
Cutting off bodyparts can "save" the horse the "cost" of growing those parts and maintaining them, true. However, there are no extraneous parts on horses (again, per evolution). So, cutting something off might have some effects that humans consider to be "positive" from the human perspective. However, there's no free lunch and there are negative consequences invariably in any procedure like this. With respect to castration, the removal of substantially all of the endogenous androgenic hormone production systems in the male horse, particularly at a young age while his body is still developing and maturing, will have a number of discrete effects.
Among them are a diminished width of chest (the "pinched chest" visual so common in early-castrated horses and dogs), decreased development of musculature overall, decreased bone density, sub-optimal fusing of bone growth plates, retardating of the development of a number of mental processes (among them social interaction tendencies and preferences), and an overall "freezing" of physical developing in a foal-like state. Additionally, research has shown in horses (and dogs) that early castration will result in a taller animal, on average - researchers have theorized that this accompanies the less-wide chest and heart girth commonly found in male animals that develop absent appropriate androgenic stimulus.
It is worth nothing that, in humans, medical science recognizes that the absence of androgenic hormonal systems at the appropriate times in the developmental stages of boys and young men is a "disease" that is treated with supplemental, exogenous hormone therapy. It is, further, recognized that failure to do so at proper time intervals will result in a grown man that is in many ways physically dis-mature and in a sense not fully grown, ever.
There are, of course, legitimate arguments in favor of castration of a particular animal (just as some would say those same arguments apply to some human males, i.e. child molesters!). However, the knife cuts both ways and the wise owner considers the full range of consequences from this procedure, rather than simply following along with the herd of humanity that assumes the procedure necessary, if not utterly and un-arguably critical, always. Again, analogously, it was until fairly recently argued that routine circumcision of male infants was "medically necessary." Now, not surprisingly, objective research shows the practice to be simply a form of genital mutilation of a non-consenting human. Perhaps religiously important, true, but certainly not "necessary" for the human body to develop into a healthy adult.
In the days of old, when herd management was crude and horses always lived together, outside, even while being domesticated, castration served the purpose of allowing for selective breeding and selection of particular breeding traits. In this regard, it was a wild success in that it underlies all of the modern sport horse breeds of today.
However, nowadays, few of our horses live outside, in the elements, each and every day in wild herds of animals that breed amongst themselves as they see fit. Rather, we choose through fine-grained analysis each and every combination of mare and stallion via hand breeding or AI.
Heck, nowadays we can "mate" horses in a test tube, using a donated egg and frozen sperm from a stallion long dead. The resulting fertilized egg can be implanted in a recipient mare totally unrelated to the growing foal. In short order, we'll be seeing cloned horses (already have cloned donkeys and mules), and genetic engineering of horse DNA for particular traits.
Why, in all of this, most folks still use a millenia-old surgical practice to remove most of the external genetalia from most male horses has more to do with habit, culture, and prejudice. It has little or nothing to do with modern breeding, nor with improved stallion selection for a particular mare.
Remember, in the old days humans would let an injured horse die if he couldn't heal on his own. Now, of course, modern veterinary medicine allows us to not only help our horses recover from injury or disease, but it also allows us to breed better, healthier, more-selective, and one would hope "happier" and more secure horses. It is, perhaps, only with routine castration of male horses that modern veterinary medicine treats a largely non-existent "problem" by physically removing substantial bodyparts from the horse.
I FIND ALL OF THESE COMMENTS INTERESTING..HOWEVER, A HORSE IF FED PROPERLY WILL ONLY REACH ITS GENETIC GROWTH POTENTIAL AS PROGRAMED BY ITS DNA -IN THE END IT WILL NOT GROW ANY TALLER THEN THIS IF CASTRATED. I DONT KNOW HOW TO EXPLAIN THE PHENOMINUM OF WHY THEY DO REACH THERE HEIGHT QUICKER BUT I HAVE WITNESSED THIS TO BE TRUE... I DO HAVE FIVE STALLIONS AND I HAVE SEEN THE COLTS GELDED GROW MUCH FASTER THEN THOSE THAT ARE NOT - I BELIVE THAT THIS IS CAUSED FROM THE CHANGES IN HORMONES AND THE ENDOCRINAL SYSTEM.. A HORSES GROWTH TAKES PLACE FROM THE RELEASE OF GROWTH HORMONE - WHICH IS ONLY RELEASED FOR A LIMITED TIME IN A HORSES LIFE - THAT IS WHY I FEEL THAT A HORSE SHOULD NOT BE CUT TOO EARLY IN LIFE....THERE ARE MANY CHANGES THAT DO TAKE PLACE AND WILL AFFECT THE LOOKS OF YOUR HORSE IN THE END. I PERSONALLY WAIT TO GELD A HORSE, BUT I LIKE TO SEE JAWLS DEVELOPED ON A GELDING. AS FAR AS GELDING THE AFORE SAID PONEY - I WOULD!!
D.Spinks, nicely said. I agree with you completely. I kept my stallion intact although I didnt, strictly speaking, buy him with breeding in mind (at 22 mos) I have been happy with him for 17 yrs. I offered him up for breeding because he turned out to be an outstanding example of his breed. He has only 42 offspring by select mares. I can't really imagine having a gelding now. I love his personality. Obviously, stallions aren't for everyone. My only regret is that he can't live with other horses as he would if he were gelded. Nevertheless, I think he is pretty happy with the life he has.
Testosterone inhibits growth plates. Gelding a colt may result in a taller mature animal than if he were left intact. Actually, the sooner you geld, the larger your colt will grow. Old timers thought just the oppisite, mistaking the thickened neck, jowls etc. for "growth".
I do not agree with D.Spinks for a number of reasons, too numerous to difine here. In my opinion, most stallions should be castrated. Not only does it make safer for the average owner to handle a gelding, it is safer and less stressful for the gelding. If one does not have the knowledge and invironment for a stallion, it can be dangerous as well as overly stressful for the animal.
There are far less informed horsemen than there are uninformed horsemen. That means that breeding with knowledge and selectivity is not always the main motivating factor.
In the wild, natural selection has a way of weeding out the inferior DNA. Not only that, but the older stallions will dominate and supress stallion-like behavior in the younger stallions. That is not the situation with owners and domesticated stallions. The sad truth is that most ordinary horsemen do not have any idea of how to handle and create a well adjusted, calm, safe stallion.
Isolation is not the answer for this herd animal. If given a choice, they would choose the herd over procreation. In the wild, young stallions are driven out from the herd. They spend the rest of their lives looking for their own herd. If this is accomplished, they then survive only to defend this herd and procreate. They are hard wired for this behavior. To be free of this hormonal drive means to relax and enjoy herd life instead of continually striving to protect and defend.
Honestly consider your knowleged and experience, the quality of your animal and the herd /breeding situation you can provide this animal before considering keeping an intact stallion. For the majority of owners and breeders, when you can see two testicles, you can geld. It is best done after weaning when the stress and weather are more suitable.
I agree with TX Breeder. Unless a colt is exeptional in breeding, conformation and temperment, geld it. And preferably before it figures out what it's testicles are for! I think a gelding is a much happier horse than a stallion that doesn't get to breed. And the world is too full of bad tempered, badly conformed horses to add to the problem. And if you don't have experience with stallions, but love the horse and don't wish to breed it, then gelding is the only option in my opinion. You will need to take extra care, as risks are increased with gelding older horses, but if all care is taken, this is rarely a problem. The vet who gelds him will know of this, anyway.
having just gone thru this with a 1200 8 yr old Cob stallion... thot I would speak up.
Owned him for pirposes of breeding and did so without problems . Imported an COb stallion that had been offered to me with totally different bloodlines that i wanted. I debated and offered original 8 yr old to the opwn market of a specific breed and get 3 instant full price offers from totally novice breeders ..who hadnot even handed a yrlg colt much lees a stallion. Didn't have to think to long abouit what would happen to my stallion and them if they didn't know what they needed to do and how to handle a mature breeding stallion. And he was delightful to handle too. Decided best route.. i collected and froze enough semen to breed 40 mares from 4 ejaculates. Then made an appointment with VET CLINIC as those cords and blood vessicles are quite large by the time they are mature. Even though my regular VEt has gelded my weanlings and yrlgs... we didn't want to take a chance and NOT be able to crunch the cords properly( half way thru a gelding is NOT the time for saying Opps!) At the clinic... he was sedated not put all the way out... gelded, TIED off not just crunched ( sorry guys). There is the risk of a bleeding if not done properly..so I paid the extra to go the safe sure way. Had no complications and horse went safely back into trg in about 5 days with moderate exercise.He was always good to handle and still is .. and was an A + stallion, made lovely foals, but wouldn't risk souring him with another stallion on what had been "his farm" for 6 yrs. Plus I refused to go thru nite mares of what could have happened if he had been sold to someone who knew nothing about breeding . HE is an A++ gelding and went into sweet mellow gelding status within a couple of weeks. Disposition stiil great , but mares are no longer in his thinking process.Testo is generally out of there system within 4 weelks ( I had always believed 8 weeks , but was corrected by Large Equine clinic Surgeon. AND I agree ..if the colts you produce ARE't stallion quality...geld them for goodness sakes instead of turning them loose into the gene pool( would they better the specific breed?? and are they really an A+ specimen of what you want t0 have out there representing you and your farm or breeding program?? ) and don't wait until they start misbehaving because of the hormones. An A+ gelding beats a C+ stallion anyday.
I have a 9 year old pony (gelded) and he is acting very studly. He's in a pasture with other mares and one of our mares came into heat and he is fully breeding to her. Can my mares get pregnant?? Is there a chance he never dropped fully and therefore he can still breed??
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