One of the most common (and some might say important) surgical procedures veterinarians perform on working equids is castration. While it’s generally considered a quick, easy, and inexpensive procedure in developed countries, where horse owners have the resources to ensure all goes as well as possible, castration can be cost-prohibitive and/or lead to complications in rural communities.

So Tracy Turner, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVS, ACVSMR, of Turner Wilson Equine Consulting, in Elk River, Minnesota, developed a simple, cheap castration tool for use in equitarian—or volunteer equine veterinary–work: the Equitwister. He described its use during a presentation at the 2015 American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention, held Dec. 5-9 in Las Vegas.

Castration is important in developing countries, said Turner, for improved equine behavior and handler safety; to prevent pregnancies in working mares; and to promote more selective breeding for better animals.

So why the need for a new castration tool?

“In equitarian work, castration is typically done on a single day in a community during a yearly visit,” Turner explained. “Due to the lack of ability to follow up on these patients, it is imperative that reliable techniques with few complications be used. In addition, these techniques are often simultaneously taught to local veterinarians or veterinary students. Ideally, the techniques should be simple, easily repeatable, and use equipment that is affordable.”

Common castration complications that know no socioeconomic bounds include hemorrhage, swelling, infection, and evisceration (protrusion of the