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Surgery 

Please contact us if you wish to arrange or discuss a castration, wolf tooth removal, sarcoid treatment or other surgery.

For equine surgical procedures the following materials are generally useful:
2 clean buckets of tap water (warm if possible)
A clean towel
A straw bale or other surface that can be used as a table for equipment
Extra lead ropes
Good lighting


Castration of horses is a routine operation, but while most operations go smoothly, there can occasionally be potentially serious and expensive complications

Castration, or gelding, involves removal of both testicles. Many people geld colts between 1-2 years old but there are also occasions when mature stallions are castrated. With the older, fully developed horses there is a potentially greater risk of complications such as herniation of the intestine and bleeding.

We prefer to do castrations during spring and autumn, avoiding the periods when flies are more active. As geldings are potentially fertile for several weeks post castration and hormone levels may also remain high, it is recommended that geldings are kept separate from mares for 6-8 weeks.

Local or general anaesthetic?

The horse’s age, size and previous handling may influence the vet’s decision about where and how to carry out the procedure. We try to avoid using a general anaesthetic wherever possible by using a standing technique under deep sedation and local anaesthetic as we believe that this method is safer for the majority of our patients however, some cases require a general anaesthetic. These include horses with retained testicles, smaller ponies and some donkeys.

What will you need?

You need to be able to handle your colt in a headcollar. We will require a flat, well lit space, 2 buckets of clean water and a handler for the horse. If your pony is being castrated under a general anaesthetic then we will also need a confined, large area for recovery, a couple of extra lead ropes and a flat surface to use as a table (such as a shavings bale or similar). An extra pair of hands is also often useful.

What does the operation involve?

Following intravenous sedation (or general anaesthetic), local anaesthetic is injected into the testicular area. The testicles are then removed through either one or two scrotal incisions. The bleeding is controlled with an emasculator – a tool which cuts and crushes at the same time. Occasionally we may need to place sutures.

Following the castration

You will notice there are two slits, which are intentionally left open to allow for the natural drainage of blood and serum - if any other fluid or tissue is present contact us for advice. These slits will gradually close up after 7 - 10 days.

The wounds may still be dripping blood, this is quite normal, and if the drip rate is less than 60 per minute it should not cause any problem. There may be an intermittent discharge for up to 3 days.

We advise keeping the horse under observation following the castration operation. Please note that he may be sleepy following the anaesthetic or sedation but should be fairly alert from around 1 hour after his injection. He should be given the normal amount of water and hay but half his normal hard feed once he is alert and responsive.

We advise keeping horses outside on clean pasture following the castration. Walking around will help to reduce the swelling. For this reason we advise that castrations are performed in spring and autumn when flies are not as active.

The day after castration your horse should resume normal demeanor and appetite. It can take up to 4-6 weeks for testosterone levels to fall so a general quietening of a robust colt cannot be expected prior to this and colts should not be turned out with mares until at least 6 weeks after the operation.

Potential problems

Routine castration is usually straightforward. But there can be complications, ranging from mild infection and bleeding to serious problems such as evisceration, or peritonitis - an infection of the abdominal cavity.

Infection, if it occurs will generally be evident from 3-5 days post castration. Your horse will have received an antibiotic injection and an anti-tetanus injection at the time of his surgery. If the scrotum becomes swollen or painful, or if there is any discharge or he becomes unwell in himself please contact us. Infection  left untreated can potentially be serious.

A sedated horse can never be considered totally safe.  It might behave unpredictably at any time.  Sudden arousals can occur without notice or in exaggerated response to stimuli that would otherwise be tolerated.  Sedated horses may stumble, even fall and they remain able to kick, barge, rear etc. 

Contact us if any of the following occur:-

  • Loss of appetite
  • Blood loss from wound after the second day, (there may be some red tinged discharge)
  • Excessive swelling of prepuce, which does not reduce with gentle exercise
  • Excessive discharge, particularly if thick and/or yellow in colour, this may indicate a secondary infection
  • Escape of abdominal contents from the scrotal wound is a serious complication. Should you see any unexpected material protruding from the scrotum please contact us immediately.

If you require any further guidance please contact the hospital on 01656 652751

Bridgend Branch
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Tel: 01446 742800
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Tel: 01446 502076
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