So it’s time to castrate your colt… but how much does it cost to geld a horse? “Gelding” can be used as a verb to describe the act of castration in male horses. Castration is a surgical procedure performed by vets. Although many livestock animals can be banded or castrated by their owners, the equine procedure involves sedation and anesthesia.
How the Procedure to Geld A Horse
An intact male horse is a colt (if under four years old), or a stallion if a mature horse. Castration is the process of taking a stallion to a gelding, hence the term “gelding” as a verb. Castration involved removing the testicles from a male horse. Veterinarians recommend waiting until horses have skeletal maturity and have already utilized the benefits of the increased testosterone to their maximum ability. However, some castration cases are timed abnormally due to cryptorchidism. This occurs from the retainment of one or both testicles. Although these stallions are typically infertile due to the higher temperature internally, they still produce testosterone and will have stallion-behavior.
A horse in good health and up-to-date on medical care (specifically tetanus) will be sedated. After receiving anesthetics, a laparoscope is used in an incision in the horse’s flank. This method is much less invasive than the traditional belly wound. This is because it allows the horse to remain standing. The higher price of gelding vs a dog’s neuter comes partially from the size of the horse and the number of medications required.
Horses that are up to date will receive tetanus boosters post-surgery. Most vets will prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection and anti-inflammatories. Insect repellent is vital post-surgery to prevent flies from flocking to the wound. Unlike some other animals, horses benefit from movement and exercise the day after surgery. 15-20 minutes of daily exercise helps prevent excessive swelling and promotes drainage. New geldings need daily exercise for at least two weeks post-operation, or until healing is complete.
Why to Geld a Horse
There are many reasons someone may choose to castrate their horse. For most owners, breeding is not on the agenda and geldings are easier to maintain and train than stallions. As a whole, stallions have behavior traits that are difficult for the average person to handle. These higher testosterone levels can cause aggression and dangerous behavior. These behaviors are amplified if stallion handling is improper or studs are denied adequate stimulation/exertion. Studies have shown that 65% of studs left in-tact for a long period developed dangerous traits as learned behavior.
If you are not planning on breeding, life as a stallion can be full of frustration. Due to the nature of the horse under human-control while in captivity, breeding ethically and responsibly is an important topic. Some horses have undesirable traits such as genetic predispositions for disease or poor conformation. These animals are not candidates for breeding. In fact, under the American Horse Council, the Unwanted Horse Coalition works to educate the public about the responsibilities of horse ownership and the importance of castration.
Cost of Gelding a Horse
The cost varies depending on your area and average veterinary prices. Typically, castration procedures will run between $100 and $300. Castration costs a little more than other standard livestock procedures because of the use of sedatives and anti-inflammatory medications post-surgery. Although surgical castration is an option for other animals, it is usually without the use of anesthetics or after-care pain medication. These procedures can take place at a ranch and do not involve veterinary care. However, rates of infection or faulty banding are much higher in these castration methods than surgical removal accompanied by antibiotics.
With these increased costs, the procedure is still typically under $300 in total depending on your area. Most veterinarian offices can point clients to a vet expense credit card service, while some offer in-house financing. Many large breed or equine-specific veterinarians will also offer payment plans for accounts in good standing. This is because horse procedures can frequently cost thousands, or even tens of thousands depending on if a horse stays on site.
There are also many nonprofit programs in place to help owners finance castration to prevent backyard breeding or unwanted horses. For more information, you can look into Operation Gelding by the UHC, Gelding Reimbursement by Front Range Equine Rescue, or programs like Operation G.E.L.D. in Maryland. Your local agriculture extension agency or equine veterinarian may be able to point you towards similar programs local to you.
Gelding a horse maybe a few hundred dollars, but it will lead to a more relaxed gelding for owners to enjoy. Foaling season is here- and for breed registries, the New Year marks a birthday for many horses! Be sure to share this article.