Horse Castration: Severe Complication More Common in Certain Breeds, Cases

Evisceration—when the intestines protrude through the surgical site—can be fatal if not treated promptly. By knowing which breeds and castration methods are more prone to evisceration, vets can be better prepared for complications.
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horse castration complications
By knowing which breeds and castration methods are more prone to evisceration, vets can be better prepared for complications, Haffner said. | Photo: Courtesy Dr. Krishona Martinson/University of Minnesota

In theory—and in many cases—castration is a straight forward procedure: sedate or anesthetize horse, remove testicles, and use proper precautions to help the recovery go smoothly. But not all horses have it so smoothly. In fact, researchers have learned that some horse breeds appear more prone to complications, the most serious of which is evisceration—when the intestines protrude through the surgical site—which can be fatal if not promptly treated at a surgical facility.

John Haffner, DVM, an associate professor at Middle Tennessee State University, in Murfreesboro, wanted to learn more, so he conducted an online survey of veterinarians about their experiences castrating horses. He shared the results at the 2018 American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention, held Dec. 1-5 in San Francisco, California.

“If we know which breeds and methods are more prone to evisceration, we can be better prepared for complications,” he said

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Erica Larson, former news editor for The Horse, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

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