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Castrations

A routine surgical procedure but any surgical intervention has associated risks.

Prior To Arranging

  • Spring (March-May) or Autumn (Sept-Nov) is the ideal time (to avoid muddy conditions & flies)
  • Optimum age 5-18

Discussion with your veterinary surgeon may influence your decision regarding the age for castration

  • Horse should:
    1. have two descended testicles and be examined by a vet prior to castration visit
    2. be in good health
  • preferably be covered for tetanus
  1. ideally be well handled

 

Preparation Prior To Castration

  • Feed as normal the night before but the quantity of overnight hay should be reduced by a third. Please read general anaesthetic notes if applicable.
  • No hard feed the morning of the op but a small amount of hay could be available
  • Drinking water should be available until 1hr prior to surgery
  • A suitable clean, dry, quiet area should be organised (stable, barn or paddock).
  • A clean bucket with warm water
  • A clean patient (if possible!).
  • One capable person available to hold the patient

 

Methods

  1. Sedation plus local anaesthetic: administered to a standing patient (op usually performed inside and may require a nearby power point for extra lighting if necessary)
  2. Full general anaesthesia: horse will lay on his side (op usually performed outside)

The vet will chose the technique which enables the operation to be carried out in the safest & most efficient way taking into consideration the size, nature & age of the horse, facilities available & the owner’s preference if any.

 

Post Operative

  • The horse should be kept quiet on recovery.
  • Careful observation of the patient is advised in the first 8-12 hours post op.
  • Confinement for initial 8-12 hours with a walk-out in hand later the same day (or overnight turnout where appropriate) Exercise should then be encouraged – including lunging/turnout or forced exercise to help prevent swelling within the sheath (ie. 5-10 minutes lunging once or twice daily
  • Rearing / play fighting with other youngsters should be discouraged
  • Hay can be offered post op & a small feed later in the day
  • Most castration sites are left open to encourage drainage
  • Antibiotics & adequate tetanus cover will be administered post op
  • Cleaning of op site is not advisable due to risk of dirt being pushed into the wounds, but gentle hosing is permitted
  • Straw or obvious debris visible from the wounds can be gently removed.
  • An antibiotic spray or powder can be applied onto wounds once or twice daily for 5 days if necessary to prevent fly attraction.
  • After castration the horse should still be kept separate from mares for at least 14 days.

 

 

Monitoring Post Operative

  • Post operative dripping of blood can be expected but should normally stop within 20-30 minutes.
  • If bleeding persists or the amount increases, the vet should be called & the patient kept still, in a quiet environment.
  • Sometimes the horse will require further surgery to control the bleeding.
  • Occasional blood-tinged/ light straw-coloured fluid discharging from the wounds is normal and may occur for a few days post op.
  • Swelling at the castration site can also be expected but if it doesn’t resolve, becomes large/firm or more painful the vet should re-examine the horse. Sheath swelling is not uncommon but scrotal swelling should be reported to the practice.
  • If the horse shows any malaise or hind-leg stiffness when walking, please contact the surgery
  • If any tissue appears to be hanging down from the wound (particularly within the first 24 hours after castration) then the vet should be contacted

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