Unless you are seriously thinking of breeding from your colt/stallion, the hormones produced by the testicles can cause serious management and behavioural issues. Not only can they produce unwanted pregnancies, but while keenly trying to get to mares, they can risk damaging you, themselves and your facilities. Castration is one of the most common surgical procedures in horses for that reason.
Although castration can be performed at any age, we recommend colts are done at around 6-18 months. This reduces the risks associated with bigger blood vessels, and they seem to recover quickly.
Time of year:
Autumn – Spring is the best time as there are fewer flies around.
Most castrations we perform are ‘open standing’ meaning the horse is heavily sedated, local anaesthetic is given and the testicles are removed with their surrounding connective tissue by emasculators (a special instrument that crushes the blood vessels and removes the testicles). The incisions are left open to allow drainage as the wounds heal. We may advise against this if one of the testicles hasn’t dropped properly, or if size or temperament doesn’t allow the procedure to be completely safely. We can also offer castrations under general anaesthetic at the Woodbridge surgery in our padded surgical room – although uncommon, we will advise if we feel this is the best option for your horse
All of our large animal vets perform castrations routinely
Any surgical procedure carries a degree of risk, but we do everything in our power to minimise this. This ranges from minor infections or swellings to the very rare evisceration of the small intestine through the scrotum. The vet will explain the risks and what to look for during the castration.
The horse will need gentle exercise for a few days after the procedure, and we generally recommend turnout (just not too muddy!). Don’t interfere with the surgical site itself, but you can wash the blood and discharge off the back legs.
The next step:
Phone the office and Laura will take the relevant information and get you booked in. It is useful to know if you can feel both testicles in the scrotum before you ring.