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Franklin Levinson's

Horse Help Center

Professional support for you and your horse!

To geld or not.

Dear Franklin,

Would you say that gelding horses is cruel? It's just that I have recently started a campaign which aims to bring about a ban on spaying and castrating animals in the U.K., and I have found that sex-hormone deficiency can potentially cause a ton of health problems (eg: neutered males are more prone to osteoporosis and heart disease). I know that a lot of people have their horses gelded so that they are easier to handle, but a friend of mine who works with horses has given me a lot of information concerning training horses. Please could you tell me if there is anything I should add to the "Behaviour" section of my website concerning horses?

Sincerely, Nicholas

Hello Nicolas,

As horses do not live in the wild very much anymore anywhere and especially in the UK, it is the domesticated horse we are concerned with. The VAST MAJORITY of people owning horses are not trainers and know little of horses, if anything at all. Their focus is riding and not the horse itself. Even riding instructors, lifetime horse owners, trophy winning riders know little of the behavioral aspects of horses. The vast majority of people involved in the 'natural horse' movement know little of the actual and factual aspects of equine behavior and psychology. There is nothing 'natural' about the horse/human relationship either. We are predators and they are prey. So, while there are many who have appropriate and successful relationship with horses, they are in the great minority. I travel internationally as a trainer and clinician and have this as my experience over many years.

This VAST MAJORITY of unskilled, unknowledgeable, opinionated, self-serving (as opposed to service to the horse) people involved with horses would not be able to appropriately train or deal with stallions. Most are resistant to learning anything about the real nature of their horses. They rather continue on with their projections and misconecptions about their horses. Humans are so attached to their point of view and opinions. Have you ever tried to change someone's mind?

Without gelding male horses there would be more abuse, more horses being slaughtered, more injuries to horses and humans, more problems stemming from ignorance and the need for humans to control and dominate horses to show how macho they are and so many more difficulties that they are too numerous to mention here. The possibility (not probability) of some illness related challenges for some horses being gelded is a small risk compared to the ENORMOUS problems facing humans and horses alike if castration were not the standard practice to deal with male horses not suitable or desirable for breeding. I am a lifetime horseman and professional trainer for over forty years. I know this to be the truth. The trainer friend of yours who is giving you information on training stallions is well intentioned. However, the true reality is that the number of people who are willing to undertake the years to learn and practice the training techniques to successfully train stallions is so small that it won't make any difference at all to the VAST MAJORITY of people involved with owning horses. Sure stallions can be gentled and trained. It is a specialized area of training and has serious risks to the human undertaking it. Personally, I know from a lifetime of experience what you are suggesting (a ban on castrating male horses) is a really BAD AND HORRENDOUS IDEA and would cause so much more suffering for horses and humans as to be an unconscionable and undefendable position when looked at in the broadest sense. I would be happy to debate this issue with you or anyone at any time.

I hope I have not offended you. That is not my intention. I have found that this sort of campaign, while begun with the best intentions in the world, is very misplaced in light of who is going to train all these male horses to become gentle stallions. Most people can't even get it together to learn the basic psychology of their horse. They are unwilling to do much more than project their human stuff on their horses and judge their horses as bad and wrong. Or they treat the horse as if it were a human baby or pet. How do you think they will judge a young stallion merely being himself? I have found few individuals really open to learning even basic ground schooling for their horses. I see no way to justify, despite the possibility of some medical problems in some horses, the elimination of castration as the standard procedure to deal with stallions undesirable for breeding.

I hope you can receive this as real support for the horse based on the realities of the situation between the VAST MAJORITY of humans and their horses. I think not gelding the horse is the cruelest thing you could do as it would leave the door open for so much abuse of stallions that it would make your mind boggle. That is the real truth!!!!!!!

Sincerely, Franklin

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