Castration or gelding of male horses involves the removal of both testicles in order to control their temperament and behaviour.

The most suitable age for the castration of youngsters is between 6 months to 2 years of age. Before this age the testicles will be very small and difficult to access. After this age the blood vessels to the testicles with enlarged and the risk of bleeding following the procedure is increased.

The procedure should ideally be carried out in the Spring or Autumn when fly numbers are lowest to reduce risk of infection. However, we are happy to perform castrations at any time of year if required.

Routinely the procedure is performed with the horse standing and heavily sedated. The testicles are injected with local anaesthetic and a skin wound made in the scrotum below each testicle. The testicles are then exteriorised and the blood vessels to them crushed and cut (“emasculated”). The scrotal skin wounds are left open to allow drainage of fluid and prevent excessive swelling. For this reason dripping of some fluid from the wounds after castration is a good thing, but a constant stream of blood is not and veterinary advice should be sought immediately.

To prevent infection we routinely administer antibiotics. If the tetanus vaccination history is unknown or lacking we will also need to address this with tetanus antitoxin at the time of castration.

A few hours after the castration is performed the horse should be turned out into a paddock. This will encourage drainage from the surgical site. Over the next few days a close eye should be kept to the surgical area. It is normal for the area to become swollen after a couple of days but this should have settled by a week after surgery. Should a lot of blood be coming from the wound, foul smelling yellow pus accumulating, or tissue be poking from the wound, then veterinary advice should be sought.

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