Why Are Race Horses Gelded?

Race Horses should be gelded to increase their chances to win on the track. Before colts are gelded, some of them display unruly behavior that hinders their training to convert them into race-winning horses.

While a horse owner may have reasons to avoid gelding his horse, the trainers have a different viewpoint. So, you may ask: Why are race horses gelded?

Why Geld a Horse?

Why do trainers recommend gelding a horse? Does gelding yield the desired result? The most important reason why a trainer advises to geld a horse is to change its attitude. A stud cold is unruly with all the new powerful male hormones raging in his body. This makes training hard.

Instead of focusing on learning and exercising, his mind is elsewhere, mostly on fillies on nearby tracks. He shows clear mating signs such as biting at fellow horses, kicking in the air, and rearing up.

In contrast, a gelded horse is easier to handle and train. He is able to focus on training and workouts. This translates into more success on the racing tracks. Making a horse to exercise and run to compete is very difficult if he is not ready because his mind is hooked up elsewhere.

Problems with stud colt

A stud colt given to bad behavior can be dangerous for both the handles and other horses in the group. For this reason, he would need to be kept separate from other horses. There are other reasons as well for race horses to be gelded. Stud colts tend to develop muscles and accumulate fat in the neck. This causes the front end of the horse to have more weight which can slow him down in his running.

In contrast, gelded horses grow to have a taller and more proportioned body shape. This helps him achieve better results on the racing tracks.

Medical reasons

Apart from behavioral reasons, sometimes there are medical issues that warrant a horse to be gelded. For example, horses are known to have a problem with walking and running in a condition called Cryptorchid. In this condition, the testis of the horse does not drop fully into his scrotum. For a race horse, this can be a serious drawback. But this has got a solution in gelding the horse.

Another problem with stud colts relates to injury which is not very uncommon for a horse being trained for racing. During the stay for an extended period in his stall, an injured stud colt tends to inflict further injury on himself. But a gelded horse spends this downtime period calmly.

Gelding: When & how?

Almost as a well-established custom, race horses are gelded young, any time between the age of 3 months and 1 year. A younger horse recovers pretty fast from gelding than an old horse.

However due care and caution need to be exercised about the right selection of the time when the colt should be gelded. If the colt is too young, his testicles may not have entirely developed or dropped. And, if the colt is too old, he may not altogether forsake his stud-like mannerism even after gelding.

Gelding procedure

Although it is not a complicated procedure, gelding a horse should be performed by a veterinarian.

The procedure involves giving a sedative and laying the horse on his side. When he is calm, the surgical site on his body is medically cleaned and an incision is made. The testes are removed and the stitches are applied on the incision though it is not always necessary.

If the horse is suffering from Cryptorchid, the procedure may be a little more complex and it may require to be performed by an experienced surgeon at a veterinarian facility.

Recovery time

It does not take long for the horse to recover from the gelding procedure. The normal recovery time is from 10 to 20 days. However, it is better to give your horse a 30-day recovery time. Initially, the surgical site may have some swelling and soreness.

But it is necessary to keep a watch on the horse as it may tend to scratch and knock off the scab. This can aggravate the wound. Your veterinary doctor will tell you how to avoid this kind of self-injury by the horse. If there is any complication, you must inform the veterinary doctor immediately.

Final thoughts

Why are race horses gelded? They are gelded because it helps their owners and trainers to train the horse for a race course. The procedure makes them calm and helps them focus on exercise and training.