Castrating your colt may be one of the only surgeries a horse owner will ever see in the field, so it is best to be prepared for the event. At the KVC, castrations are always performed with either a two-veterinarian team, or a vet and a Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT). This ensures that your horse is safely monitored when under anesthesia and minimizes the rate of anesthesia-related complications.
A colt may be castrated anytime after 6 months of age, although in some circumstances they may be done even earlier than this. Vaccinations against tetanus should ideally be given prior to this procedure, so you may want to plan the timing accordingly. Other considerations include the time of year – many people prefer to do their castrations in the early spring or late fall to minimize contamination of the surgical site by flies – and a location for the surgery to take place. Castrations can be performed indoor (a stall or arena) or outdoor (flat pasture) – but the site should be inspected prior to anesthesia for safety.
If the owner does not wish to be present for the procedure, it is asked that another volunteer be present to assist in restraint of the colt. A brief examination is performed to ensure the colt’s vital signs are normal, and that two testicles are palpable before the first injection of anesthetic is given. This relaxes the colt and prepares him for the second injection that will help him lay down. Once the colt is down, the surgery itself takes only 10-15 minutes to complete. If time permits, the wolf teeth may also be removed during the anesthetic period. The veterinarian will stay on-site until your colt is standing after the surgery to help with recovery period.
At the KVC, the castration site is left open following surgery to allow for drainage and minimize swelling. Your colt will be given an injection of antibiotics on the day of the surgery and you will administer oral antibiotics for five days following as a preventative measure. The colt should stay inside or in a small enclosure for 24 hours following the castration to ensure there are no complications (such as heavy bleeding) before light exercise is resumed, such as small paddock turn-out or hand-walking.
REMEMBER, even though the castration has been done, your colt is still capable of breeding a mare for up to six weeks. It is best to prevent access to any mares you do not wish to be breed during this time.