What Is A Gelding?

Horses are wonderful animals. They have had a close bond with humans for thousands of years. We have ridden on them; we have taken care of them; we have fed them, and we have written stories about them.

What Is A Gelding

Yet, there is a great deal of terminology related to horses that many people aren’t familiar with. You might have heard words like mare, foal and colt but not know what those words mean. 

This article will explain what some phrases related to horses mean. So if you have ever wondered what a gelding is, this article will explain exactly what one is.

What Is A Gelding?

Let’s start by explaining the simplest question is first – what is a gelding?

A gelding is a castrated male horse that has had its male reproductive organs, also known as its male genital area, which allows a male horse such as a stallion to become a much calmer animal.

Horses like male stallions often have unpredictable behavior patterns associated with their reproductive organs.

This is why the owners of horses often geld their male horses because it ensures that they calm down and don’t cause trouble for their other animals or horses. 

Now that we’ve explained what the term gelding means, let’s move on to explaining the history behind gelding and how it can help horses. 

The History Of Gelding 

The gelding of horses is first recorded to have occurred in 6th century BC and to have been done by the Scythians, one of the oldest civilisations in the Ancient World. 

The reason that the Scythians did gelded their horses was for much the same reason as horses are gelded now – to stop them becoming too rambunctious and causing issues with other animals. 

However, the method that is used for gelding now is much different from that employed by the Scythians and other historical practitioners of gelding.

In the past, gelding was done by actually using burning metal to geld up the horse’ genital area and it was a process that involved a great deal of risk – both to the horse who might have potentially died had the process not being done right and the people doing the gelding who could equally have been seriously injured if the horse was not properly restrained. 

Thankfully, the process of gelding has come a long way since the time of the Scythians.

Today gelding is done by sedating the horse before performing an operation to remove the testes and crush the spermatic cord, thus ensuring that the horse will no longer have any potential anger issues caused by its hormones. 

This of course raises some questions about the continuation of horses as a species – if male horses are regularly castrated, how then does this affect the general horse population and could it have serious consequences for horses as a species? We’ll turn to the answer to this particular issue next. 

Gelding And Horse Reproduction

What Is A Gelding?

Population control is a complex and sensitive subject relating to animals. For some animals such as pigs and sheep, it is done via the killing and then consumption of these animals as food stuff.

With more domesticated animals like horses, cats and dogs it is done through a process or chemical or physical castration. 

However, you might be wondering how this then impacts the overall horse population. It impacts it in so far as the decision is made at a relatively early age as to whether or not the particular male horse will become a stallion or not.

When a male horse is born it is known as a foal and will only become a stallion when it reaches sexual maturity. 

Some horse owners will therefore decide they don’t want to breed from that particular male horse and so geld them at an early age. However, some other horse owners wait until a horse is no longer as virile or fertile as it once was.

This is a process known as being put out to stud. Rather than let the horse stay alone in a field after it has lost its fertility, many owners decide to geld their former stallions. 

This therefore means that the impact on the horse population is generally rather small as there are always male horses that are kept as stallions for stud horses meaning that even though a significant proportion of the overall male horse population is gelded at some time in their lives, this does not have a detrimental impact on the horse population as a whole. 

Gelding can, therefore, in fact be beneficial for horses – it ensures that former stallions can interact with female horses and therefore not be isolated and lonely and it keeps a handle on the horse population so that it does not suddenly explode and become too much for the ecology of the human population to handle. 

Why It Is Important To Know About Horse Gelding 

Horses are wonderful animals. They have not only enriched our lives by helping to transport people and good across the world in the past but they have also enriched our lives by being truly amazing animals that have brought joy to the millions of people who have loved and cared for them, who have ridden on their back and who have dreamed of owning them. 

Whilst gelding might seem like something that hurst horses, it in fact helps them. It ensures that male stallions do not become too unpredictable and end up harming themselves or others. 

It ensures that there is a stable horse population which does not suddenly overwhelm the resources we have to look after horses. 

It makes sure that male stallions, once they are no longer as fertile, can have company with other horses in their old age. 

Gelding is a natural part of ensuring that horses are safe, healthy and protected. This is why rather than seeing gelding as a negative thing it should be understood as a means of keeping our favorite animals safe,

healthy and ultimately happier than they would have been without it. This is why it is important to understand what gelding is and why it is often seen as necessary. 

By understanding gelding you can understand the needs of our horses across the world and if you are interested in owning horses yourself then it is truly vital information.

Catherine McDowl
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