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Gelding a 10 year old stallion.

Dear Franklin,

Here is my dilemma: I bought a 10 year old "Nonius" stallion 6 months ago. Because his previous owners were not experienced with horses, he had spent much of his life in a field on a chain, isolated from the world. No one had ever attempted to do anything with him. Needless to say, I'm very proud of our progress these past months. He has gone from fearful and at times aggressive, to polite and civilized in relatively a short amount of time. But, my lovely black stallion does have his moments when instinct just gets the best of him. Because of this, I'm limited to where I can take him and with whom we "buddy" with. He displayed all the signs of being neglected and abused, and it has taken a long time for him to trust me. I try delicately balancing being the boss or "head broodmare", and his friend. And it's working (most of the time).

Castrating season is almost here now, and I'm torn. Should I do it? Even though he's ten? The other thing is that he is a beauty. He has an outstanding lineage with papers to prove it. He is a wonderful mover, fast learner, responsive, animated, etc... Basically, he has talent. Will he loose his "nerve", or that proud grace he carries himself with, if I geld him? If I had a complimentary mare, I would hold off and breed him in a second, but I don't.

I'm afraid also that this procedure will be very traumatic for him. If the only reason to do it, is so that I am a little safer around other horses, is that right? Can I over time, get him used to being around others or desensitize him? I know he's been isolated for many years because of his nature. If I carefully surround him with others, and practice trail riding with some very quiet horses, do I have a shot at "socializing" him? Or is it more humane to geld him now?

Sincerely, Maggie

Hi Maggie,

I don't think I have had a question from Romania before. Thank you.

It is always a bit risky gelding an 'older' stallion. If you have good veterinarians there is should not be a problem though. Often it is the fear of other horse owners and their paradigms and beliefs about stallions that makes things difficult for mannerly stallions and their owners. Many people will not want to ride with you or have you around with the horse. At his age, his behavior would probably not change much at all from the absense of his testes. His looks will remain the same. If he is mild mannered now he will continue to be so. Whatever his manner is now will continue after the proceedure. It may or may not be traumatic for him. This is difficult to say. You could try riding with other horses and see how it goes. He may be great or may not. At least you would have a handle on how he might be on the trails with other horses if you do. If he were aggressive, he will still be a bit aggressive after the proceedure. You see, behavior becomes habitual over time. Even the loss of specific hormones being produced in the body will not stop a lot of habitual behavior well established over time with an older horse. Old habits are hard to break for all of us. So, I can't really say what you should do. But perhaps a bit more time trying him out in various situations may provide valuable insight. Good Luck.

Sincerely, Franklin

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