Calming a Mustang Stud

Last fall I adopted a wild mustang stud. Would gelding him help calm his wild attitude?

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Calming a Mustang Stud
Most geldings are less energetic and strong-willed than stallions. | Photo: iStock
Q. Last fall I adopted a wild mustang stud. It is my first horse. Should this guy be fixed? Will it calm his wild and spooky attitude? Can you tell me how you do it? I want to start training him this spring.

Will, Alabama

A. Having your mustang stallion fixed is probably a good plan, particularly since he is your first horse. Let’s start with what it is and how it is done. The horse “fixing” procedure is known by many names. The most popular in this country are gelding or cutting, or the medical term castration. The procedure involves surgically removing the testicles. It is a veterinary procedure that can be done on the farm, in most cases. Depending on factors the veterinarian will carefully consider at the time, gelding can be done either under heavy sedation with the horse standing or under brief general anesthesia (asleep and lying down). Once the horse is sedated and prepared, the actual surgery usually takes only a few minutes. Again, depending on the age of the horse and the farm conditions, the veterinarian will recommend observation and aftercare for discomfort and swelling. This can include medications, as well as daily hosing of the scrotal area and hind limbs. Recommendations also will likely include light exercise in as clean and insect-free environment as possible. Your veterinarian will explain the risks and the specific care for your horse and farm situation.

Now, what can you expect behavior-wise from your gelded mustang? Removal of the testicles eliminates the major hormones that drive male sexual and aggressive behavior. So, after castration, the behavior of most horses changes. The horse generally will show considerably less interest in fighting with other males or herding and breeding mares. Geldings vary in just how much stallion-like behavior they retain. For example, some will still herd, tease, and mount mares as if they were a stallion

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Written by:

Sue M. McDonnell, PhD, is a certified applied animal behaviorist and the founding head of the equine behavior program at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine. She is also the author of numerous books and articles about horse behavior and management.

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