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Sarah L Rhoades, DVM

Providing quality veterinary services for horses in the greater Franklin County, Missouri area.

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Field Surgery

To be strictly clear: Major surgeries, such as orthopedic, colic and other abdominal surgeries are strictly reserved for hospital facilities and clean environment. 

The clean conditions required to perform these procedures safely simply cannot be replicated in a barn or farm environment. Further, there are many procedures, that while they can be performed on the farm with relative safety, would also benefit from the additional clean environment. Generally speaking, if it is an option to  perform a procedure in a hospital environment, I would encourage you to pursue that avenue.

With that said, there are many procedures can be performed on the farm and are considered routine. Here are some examples and information on each.

Elective Routine Castration

Castration is the surgical removal of testicles from an intact male horse (a stallion), in order to sterilize him and reduce aggressive behaviors that can be quite dangerous to handle.

It is strongly recommended and encouraged for any horses that meet any one of the following criteria:

  1. Are not valuable breeding animals.

    • Such as: Horses that do not possess a desirable pedigree, all un-registered/grade horses, horses with poor confirmation or undesirable confirmation traits, horses that do not meet breed registry standards to a superior degree, etc.

  2. Any animal with heritable defects.

    • Including: cryptorchidism, parrot mouth, OCD lesions in his joints, and genetic diseases such as HYPP, PSSM1/2, HERDA, etc.

  3. If there is no intent to breed the animal.

    • Life as a domestic stallion is a life of isolation from other horses – this can cause significant stress and is not fair or kind to the horse unless extensive measures can be taken to ensure he is properly enriched and stimulated. Ultimately, the situation is not ideal for the horse, so unless the intent is to pass on those genetic traits the horse possess on a regular basis, it is strongly recommended to castrate him so that he can live a more normal life that fulfills his strong social instincts.

  4. If the proper handling facilities to keep a stallion are not readily available.

    • Facilities need to have proper fencing that needs to be sturdy, and well kept. A wire fence is not appropriate – and could not only fail but result in disastrous injury. There needs to be enough room to keep a stallion in a turn out pen alone for a significant amount if time daily. Proper exercise and enrichment need to be provided daily.

  5. If proper training and handling from an individual experience in training and handling actual breeding stallions is not readily available.

While most horses are quite amendable to training, a breeding stallion is much less forgiving of poor handling and mistakes: stallions can become quite dangerous, sometimes irrevocably, in response to both abusive and spoiling practices – the handling and training of breeding stallions is not for the novice or inexperienced but should be reserved only to those who actively work in the field. This may in fact even be a matter of life and death for the stallion.

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