Stallions

GELD 'EM !!!

What is a stallion's ONLY purpose? Simply - to breed mares and pass on his SUPERIOR traits to the future generation. If I had a quarter for every stud colt that I have seen where the owner said "I'll keep him a stallion because (insert reason below)", I'd be a RICH FILLY!!!

Their reasons:

  1. He'll get bigger.
  2. He'll be easier to sell in case someone wants to breed him.
  3. He's so nice and his bloodlines are so rare.
  4. He's so pretty / conformation is so nice / performance "prospect".
  5. I want to breed my mares to him when he grows up.
  6. Gelding is painful, unnatural and cruel.
  7. I can't afford the ridiculous stud fees people charge.
  8. (My all time favorite) - he was already gelded - he's "proud cut".

What is life REALLY like for most stallions? They are separated by 2 years of age from all other horses, many are kept in individual stalls with no contact or exposure to other horses, because they are considered too valuable or too vicious (why are these horses to be bred in the first place?) to be exposed to other horses.

Many young stallions are over-corrected for simple youthful exuberance and natural herd behaviors. The animal is introduced to chains (lip or nose), whips and isolation for his interest in "the girls", I've even seen a horse's penis visciously whipped for letting it hang out! These horses begin to demonstrate stress coping behaviors (cribbing, wind-sucking, kicking, biting, weaving) out of their frustration and isolation. Others have severe libido problems when they actually are allowed out.

Debunking the "reasons":

1. Scientific research has shown that horses gelded earlier (at 2 weeks up to 6 months) will grow to be up to 4 inches taller than their intact full brothers, and will not demonstrate stallion-like behaviors at maturity (biting, rearing, attacking). Unless you WANT a 4 year old gelding that will act like a stallion - GELD HIM EARLY! Many veterinarians and vet schools are doing this procedure as soon as two weeks of age.

2. Knowledgeable horse people do not purchase stallions for their children, their farm setting, or for performance events in which they are competing. Only professionals are interested in purchasing, promoting, and competing a stallion - and they pay huge prices for good stock. Few horses will ever meet these criteria. By estimates, there are over 300,000 stallions in the US right now. WHY?

3. If he's a nice stallion, he'll make a fantastic gelding. If his bloodlines are rare, there is probably a reason!!!!

4. If he's that pretty, a knowledgeable professional will negotiate a fair price for him as a young horse. Take him to the shows or events. If no one makes an offer - he's probably not as pretty as you think.

5. A quality breeding operation requires equipment, facilities, and knowledge far beyond the scope of most amateur owners. To breed your own mares will require a significant investment in veterinary reproductive work, time and always remember you could lose your mare, the foal, or both.

6. Gelding has been a normal method of controlling horse breeding and temperament from ancient times - historical records show gelding of horses was done well over 4,000 years ago. It can be painful if the surgery is not followed up by correct aftercare, especially if you wait until the horse reaches puberty (6 months or so). After the testicles begin to produce sperm, they have a huge blood and nervous supply - at a few months of age, the testicles are tiny and it is almost a bloodless surgery. Correct aftercare includes some exercise and hosing with cold water - ask your vet to show you how to keep the flies off the incisions.

7. Refer to #5. It is really amazing that so many quality stud horses are available at VERY fair prices! The higher the fee and farther away the stallion, does not always indicate higher quality - simply better marketing. There are many TOP quality horses in the Southeast, as well as cooled and frozen shipped semen, available for very fair prices. It is FAR cheaper than building separate facilities for your own stallion!

8. There is NO such thing as a "proud cut" horse! Ask your vet if you can watch next time he gelds a horse - the testicles are HUGE!! You would have to be TOTALLY incompetent to cut one in half, or "leave" a piece in the horse. And even if you did - it would lose the blood supply, die, necrosis and cause a huge abscess. If he acts studdish - have a blood test pulled for testosterone - if it is positive then the horse is a cryptorchid - meaning there is still a testicle inside his body that never dropped into the scrotum. If negative, then the horse learned studdish behaviors before he was gelded, and this may never go away. (When people try to tell me this one - they get a 30 minute lecture by my mom, complete with diagrams and pictures to illustrate.)

My mom and dad have visited a horse slaughterhouse. In a very informal survey based on the 3 days they spent there they estimated that 70% of the horses brought in were stallions - well over the 33% that one would expect in a ratio of mare to geldings to stallions.

Unfortunately, due to overbreeding, there are more and more horses each year - and the slaughterhouse is where the uncontrollable, the untrainable, and the unwanted horse ends up. Would these horses have gotten a second chance if they were geldings? No one will ever know.