One frequent question horse owners are asked by non-riders is “What is a gelding?”
A gelding is a horse that has “been gelded” – the equine equivalent of the “neutering” procedure performed routinely on dog and cats. A gelding horse is much calmer and easier to train than an ungelded stallion- who’s hormones can make them difficult to manage. Geldings often make excellent first horses and kids horses.
Some people choose to when to geld a colt based on how they want the horse to grow. Theories conflict, however, on how gelding affects the maturing horse. Some believe that gelding a horse before sexual maturity redirects growth energy towards growing in height, while others insist that the hormonal changes experienced by stud-colts as they mature into adult stallions creates better muscle tone and better develop muscle tone at the crest of the neck.
The Gelding Operation
The veterinary procedure of gelding a stallion is a moderately invasive procedure which is usually done under general anesthesia but can be done on a “farm call” by a vet who comes to the farm. The gelding operation is a very common procedure but can have elevated risks if the horse has matured into an adult stallion. Complications such as colic, herniation, infection, or reaction to anesthesia can occasionally make the operation fatal.
Are Female Horses Spayed?
Spaying female horses is possible, but very uncommon- performed typically only when the mare has experienced health issues or is experiencing hormonal cycling that’s disruptive to her use (i.e. not able to tolerate riders, etc). Spaying a mare is a very invasive surgery that requires being taken to a veterinary hospital for a more complex operation. The complexity and longer recovery time results in a significant;y higher expense than for gelding, and contributes to the rarity of spayed female horses.