Gelding - Aftercare

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Well-Known Member
Mar 12, 2008
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Montana USA
I am going to be gelding my five year old black stallion this spring. I plan to do this before the flies get bad and before he goes to my sisters ranch. It has been a long time since I have had to deal with gelding any size horse. I wondered what you have experienced as fat as the aftercare required.

It used to be that you forcefully exercised them for twenty minutes a day and cold hosed the scrotal incisions with a mild stream of cold water. What have you done in recent years?

Also, did you keep them stalled at all or did you allow them to go out and play with their pasture mates during the healing process (he is currently pastured with his gelded half brother).

How long is it recommended that you keep them seperate from any mares? All my horses were living in a boarding stable situation when the were gelded so mixed turnout was not even possible. Now with them living at home and getting to spend 3/4 of their day outside in pastures I think they are much happier.
I have never cold hosed any of mine--not even 'in the old days'. I also do not routinely do forced exercise--not as in '20 minutes per day' -- if the horse is out moving around on his own then I leave him be. If he doesn't move around or if he isn't draining enough and swells up, then I take him for walks once or twice a day, or get him moving around his corral more. It almost certainly won't be 20 minutes at a time.

I keep the horse alone the first day and night after gelding as per the vet's instructions and then after that he can be out with his friends as normal. I do not stall mine at all--they stay out as usual.
doing nothing seemed to heal faster. Hosing kept blowing off the healing tissue so my vet told me to stop. Keeping with their regular routine and doing nothing seemed to work best. Regular turn out, not "exercise". My horses healed great. Something funny for checking the area was that I would stick my digital camera under my boy and take a photo and then look at it on my computer rather than sticking my head under my horse to check. You would be surprised how good a photo you can take and how detailed and easy it is to "check" how things are healing. My vet works at New Bolton Center and she said minis heal so much faster and better than biggies and that they have very little swelling and she is amazed at how quickly they heal with out complications. If you get swelling or soreness she said we can address that at the time, however if healing well, just leave well enough alone. The only one I had that took a little longer to heal but was still ok, was the one I hosed. take care and best wishes.
Hmmm, I wonder if what part of the country your in and what time of the month you geld in affect it? When we lived in CO and MT, we never had any issues and didn't do anything special.

Here - for the 7 years that I leased property from and worked for a vet - we used exercise 2x daily and cold hosing and the vet preferred us to use as forceful a water stream as we could get (most folk in our area had poor water pressure!)... NEVER had any problems and used the two weeks after castration to train our boys either under saddle or start driving. Concentrated "work" - 2 x daily for 14 days.

Hadn't had any colts gelded in a while when we moved up here. Our "new" vet thought that those directions were barbaric. She recommended we do "nothing" but turnout in their own pastures just as they were... So far - all 5 of the boys who've been gelded have deveoped severe infections that then had to be treated. Boy do those get EXPENSIVE! None has been done during specific fly season (early April or October - have been the months we've gelded).

So the 2 yr old and the yearling getting done in two weeks will both be "worked" and cold hosed. By "worked" I mean that the 2 yr old will be started on some round penning and ground driving work and the yearling will probably be ponied off of a cart/driving pony (like he was with his dam). The 2 yr old is a shetland that should mature between 42 - 45" and the other is a much smaller mini/shetland. Cold hosing - well, what a great opportunity to get both accustomed to being washed and having their sheaths cleaned (right now neither has had a lot of handling).

All the vets I've spoken with here say that they can have active, live sperm for up to 6 - 9 months after gelding. Also, any breeding "habits" would still be present... Then again, I sold a gelding that was gelded at 9 months of age and never used for breeding. He is now coming 4 yrs old. I sold him to a girlfreind at 2 yrs of age and he went out with her Shetland mare and their Arab horses. The Shetland mare will stand for him when she is in season and he sometimes gets an erection and mounts to breed her. Soooo??? The rest of the geldings and studcolts that I have are all pastured by themselves as a group now. So I don't know what they'd do if turned out with the mares... But previously, I had no problems when I put gelded yearlings back out with the mares... The two 2 yr olds I had done - went into separate paddocks for several months - just as they had been before gelding.
Well, I live on another continent and I have never hosed a gelding and never forcibly exercised one either- it just never seemed right to do so. I leave them alone and check them, manually, every day and make sure they are warm (or cool depending on the weather) and happy in themselves.
All the vets I've spoken with here say that they can have active, live sperm for up to 6 - 9 months after gelding. Also, any breeding "habits" would still be present... Then again, I sold a gelding that was gelded at 9 months of age and never used for breeding.
That doesn't even make sense to me, sperm is produced by the testicles, once they are removed sperm production is done; and any residuals in the body should be gone within a few days of the surgery. I have heard that breeding habits take quite awhile to leave the "mind", and that a good rule of thumb is one month of separation after the surgery per year of age at time of gelding (however, all horses are individuals and some lose all those thoughts from the time they wake up from surgery, and others never do).
I did hose the sight a couple times daily for the first two days. I did keep the newly gelded horses outside, alone in his personal field to prevent any "rough housing" with anyone for a good full month. I did not force exersise as the horse would be fine on his own walking around all day. I also stalled at night.
The length of time the sperm can live is governed by a number of things but, theoretically, it should not be able to last past it's "shelf life" of 48hrs. I wonder of this myth started with rigs? Or possibly a horse with one small testicle and a bad or hasty vet? Anyway it is logical to keep a gelded horse away form mares. at least whilst remembering that horses heal better with their friends- they are herd animals and do not do well in isolation. The time it takes to settle depends entirely on the mind set of the animal involved, I have had 10 year olds settle much faster than yearlings but the 11 year old I had done took over a year to settle and DC, who was gelded two years ago and never bred a mare until; a year after he was gelded, has only just this year settled down and is beginning to exhibit normal gelding behaviour. He was three when he was gelded.
Living here in Florida...sand is an issue, so I do rinse the site with water a few times daily. Horses roll...and they get sand in all the crevises. As far as exercise, I think that as long as they are moving (not stalled), they are fine and do not need to be exercised "forcefully".
I have to chime in to say that both times I've had a horse gelded, the vet had me trot them several times a day, and it really worked out well -- I lost weight both times.
I should have more to offer later this week because our yearling colt is scheduled to be gelded on Thursday. The vet that usually does my ultrasounds will be doing it because my regular vet is still recovering from a broken leg so I am not sure what she will advise for after care. When Rusty was gelded 2 years ago I don't remember any hosing, we just kept him in his same run by himself where he was hear his dad and the other horses and could get plenty of exercise. He was stalled a night. I plan to do the same with Clyde unless I hear different. We may be turning him out with another gelding more his size (not Rusty!) once he recovers.
Every vet is different, but here, my vet does NOT want the incision area to be wet until it's well healed. We geld out in the grass on my farm and when the horse wakes up, move him into a stall in the barn while he continues to wake more. My vet does not want newly gelding horses on shavings and I bed on hay for a few days. I don't force exercise. I turn them out in the grass and let them move freely. Never had any swelling or other issues after gelding.
I will defer to your Vet for final instructions.

For my cases, I give Banamine at time of surgery then I prescribe Banamine or Bute (depending on which is easier for the Client) twice daily for 5 days. I prefer no movement on the day of surgery and 1 day afterward, followed by 'the more he swells the more you move him'. Turning him out does not equal movement, sometimes they need forced. NEVER touch the wound without contacting me first and I rarely touch the wound.

Most of my cases are met with surprise from the owner about how little they swelled and how comfortable they were and I think both of those things are attributed to the anti-inflammatories. I also think its more humane and a beloved member of the family deserves pain management.

Dr. Taylor
Thank you Dr. Taylor, I hadn't given much thought to pain management, less pain would equal more movement which would hopefully equal less swelling. Banamine would be my choice.

Does everyone do a tetanus booster right before surgery even if the horse is current on it's shots?

I think that as long as his regular daily routine is followed he will move around with his (gelding) pasture mate as they have always lived together and will play. He is stalled at night so is handled at least twice a day (am and pm) so would give ample time to visually inspect for swelling and move accordingly.

Like I said I have always had horses gelded in a boarding stable situation so pasture time was not an option so we always jogged them on a lunge line. I am glad I have the turnout option now.

Now I am wondering about the shavings as that is what we use here. I don't have easy access to straw and I hate to use hay, I know he would eat it. I have always used shavings in the past but the question was raised so guess I will ask my vet his opinion.

Thanks for all the answers so far, this is perhaps one aspect of horse management that hasn't changed a lot.

He was in with the mares three years ago, but hasn't bred anything since then he has been living with a gelding. That being said he certainly knows what a mare is, at least "his girls". I just don't want him to "violate" his daughter as he will be moving with her to the new farm so I will keep him away from the girls for a while and just kind of see how it goes.
I gelded a boy recently. My vet told me not to cold hose him at all but to make sure he got exercise every day. He was turned out during the day and had no problems whatsoever. It was a very easy procedure and quick recovery. He was almost 3 when he was gelded. My vet did do a tetanus shot prior to gelding. And as Dr. Taylor said, you should discuss pain management. I think if you have a vet you hold in high regard, he/she will take great care of your boy.
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My vet with the broken leg is coming earlier this week for shots (Tues or Wed depending on weather, as snow is predicted for Tues) and even though we split the spring shots, he is making sure Clyde gets the tetanus before his surgery. Guess I need to check with the vet doing the gelding and make sure she knows this.
Spot on with the pain relief- so many Vets don't prescribe so it is good to see one who does- as to exercise- I would not force it unless the horse were very lazy, then maybe I would insist! Suzanne, I love your post, the benefits to the owner are often overlooked!! The horse may well continue to breed mares long after he has been gelded- this is not good practice as there is some discharge form the animal even when gelded and this can be deposited in the uterus and cause infection. Just something to bear in mind.....
Well the appointment is scheduled for the afternoon of April 5th. I guess my vet requires they have tetanus vaccine updated 30 days before (done already) and that they are confined for 48 hours after the surgery. (We will go over all after-care requirements in detail.) He has no problem with banamine for pain management if the owner requests and I will.
We have had many boys gelded. We have never hosed any of them. The vet usually comes here late in the afternoon so we keep them in the stall most of the next day--taking them out for a 5 min walk a couple of times that day--the second day, we will usually let them out with a friend that they get along and play with. Most times, it was another boy that had been gelded. We do this for several days. On about the 5th or 6th day, we let them out with all the boys that will be their usual lot mates, but they all still get stalled at night and checked daily for problems. At about 2 to 3 weeks, we will add the mares that usually go out with the barn horses to play. Never had any problems with this method.

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