January 17, 2022

To Geld or Not to Geld or When to Geld

I realize that my turnout post might have been the first time I discussed my thoughts around gelding Disco, so let's get a little deeper into that today, shall we?

Wheee. PC: Austen

The plan is to keep him intact at least until the age of two or potentially forever, as long as he's 1. not a danger to my fellow co-op members, 2. not a danger to the other horses on the property, and 3. able to live a healthy, happy life as a horse.

Why would I keep a stallion? Well, a few reasons.

1. Lisa will use him. I've always wanted to see one of her stallions have a performance as well as a breeding career, but because she mostly only does live cover and for some other reasons I won't get into here, the logistics of that have never worked out. 

We all agreed this is Disco's Tinder profile picture, lol. PC: Austen


2.  He's nice, for a Section D especially, but also just in general. I don't think I realized quite how nice until the Welsh show in October, but when he beat nearly everything else on the showgrounds as a weanling and then the judges asked me his registered name so they could keep an eye on his career, I took note. He has a lot to contribute to the breed, physically and mentally.

Section D folks from around the world have messaged me and Lisa to tell us how nice he is, with some of them calling him the nicest Section D colt they've ever seen. PC: Austen

3. I enjoy riding Cob stallions. I've ridden his uncle Cadence and his grandpa Dundee, and there's just something a little bit "extra" about a stallion. That extra little bit of awareness of their surroundings and an extra bit of biological imperative that geldings don't have. I like it.

Me riding Connor's and Dyma Hi's full brother, Cadence, in May of 2020

 

4. There's decent evidence that waiting until the age of 2 or later to geld results in a shorter horse with growth plates that close faster. I'm not rushing to ride him or anything, but with that plus the fact that Connor was gelded at 2 and I'm happy with him, it makes me want to wait at least that long. Nature designed them that way for a reason, and I fully understand and support gelding some of them younger for a variety of reasons, but if I have the choice, why not wait?

Two year old Connor, the year he was gelded

5. Disco's baseline personality is easy to deal with, and his super chill stallion half-brother gives me hope that he'll stay that way even after his hormones come in. Obviously I can't count on Disco being exactly the same, but Dyma Hi's 2017 colt Tanner continues to be tractable enough for his owner's Kindergarten-age daughter to ride and handle (with close supervision, of course), even after breeding mares live cover for a couple of years and living out with another fellow Castleberry stallion.

Disco's stallion half brother and his tiny charge


6. I think I can do it safely and still allow him to be a horse. I have a lot of options available to me running a co-op that I wouldn't have at a traditional boarding barn, and as long as I have buy-in from everyone on those options and he continues to be safe to handle, we can do this. It was pre-co-op, but we have successfully kept a stallion on this property in the last few years, which gives me confidence we can do it again.

Such a sweet face and soooooo much hair. PC: Austen

7. This is the least scientific part of this post, but multiple horsewomen and bodyworkers that I respect have talked to me about gelding scars in the last year and how they might cause pain and performance problems later in life. There's no scientific evidence for or against this that I can find, but I have this filed away in the back of my mind as a "huh, that's interesting".

Current status: growth spurt, lol

Of course, none of this matters if he gets difficult to handle or dangerous. He has to be a co-op-safe horse first, and a performance horse second, and if either of those are in question I'll geld him immediately. So, we take it one day at a time!

22 comments:

  1. I'm excited for your journey with him!

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  2. He is a stunning prospect for sure!

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    1. Yeah Lisa really knocked it out of the park with him.

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  3. It sounds like you've thought this through carefully. And you're lucky to be in a boarding situation where this has the potential to work. I bought my Bashkir Curly as unbacked, almost 4-year old. His sire was still intact and I rode him to get an idea of what my guy might be like. The stallion was such a sweet guy, and I was able to take him down the driveway past all the other horses after riding him in the ring. Knowing that the sire had that kind of been-there-done-that attitude, even as stallion, made me comfortable buying my horse unbacked. So I agree with you that there are lines that are well suited to be riding and breeding stallions. That said, my guy is a gelding. He was gelded before I bought him :)

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  4. I have been in your shoes, twice. It is definitely a day by day situation. We as you know went both ways and both were the right choices. You will figure out the right way for you.

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    1. Yes you did, and thanks for the vote of confidence.

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  5. There is so much to consider here. But it sounds like your co op could be the perfect place for it. Disco's super personality probably doesn't hurt!

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    1. Yes if he was already hard to handle this would be a different conversation.

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  6. I like your thoughts. My friend had an Andalusian stallion and he’s wonderful to ride and handle. He is a lovely pony and would contribute to the breed quality.

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  7. I really enjoy nice stallions! Most of them are very nice to work around and get along just fine in life. Until recently, we had two warmblood stallions at the boarding barn, and they were fine as long as people were smart. (One was sold to an ammy and gelded, the other is still in tact and doing great at 20 years old.)
    I will say, my experience having one as an amateur, was you have to be a little extra careful when traveling. At shows, no matter how good your stallion is, be prepared to put boards up if you're in tent stalls. That sort of thing. People get judgy about amateurs handling stallions. It's annoying! That may be more of a hunter/jumper in the US kind of bias though. Perhaps it's less so in your world. (I hope so!) In Europe it seems like everyone has stallions.
    Anyway, I know you'll do the right thing for Disco and yourself, either way. He really is so lovely, and I'm excited for your future together!

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    1. I haven't seen a tent stall since I stopped eventing, but that's a good call out. I don't know that there's any bias in Dressage toward it, I'm sure some people will get judgy but I'm sure I already get judged for lots of things and I live. As long as everyone is safe and happy, I'm happy.

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  8. I waited until 2 to geld Presto and we see how well that worked with the height lol. In all seriousness, as someone who has worked with a lot of stallions for almost 20 years and has a stallion on the property I would definitely not want to own one just because it requires a lot of special consideration (and omg mare owners are insane), but the good news is that if you change your mind the balls can always come off.

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    1. Yeah that's the only thing I didn't put in this post: it's really a day-by-day situation for me. Now that they're in, each day he's a good boy and everyone handling him feels comfortable and safe, he gets to keep his balls. Lisa and I have talked about it and she'll be sad but understanding and supportive if/when he's gelded. Best case scenario he makes it to 2 or longer, but I'm absolutely not married to that by any means.

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  9. He's stunning for sure. I do think that too many people get too anxious about the idea of having a stallion. In the right setup and with people that have half a clue, it isn't too difficult than any other horse, IMO.

    But I think so many people have never been around stallions and so there's this stigma around it.

    I agree--riding a stallion just has a little extra zing.

    The balls can always come off--not quite so simple to put them back on. :)

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  10. Is there ever an option if you are faced with having to geld him to collect and freeze his semen for some offspring? I know you said Lisa only does mostly live cover, but...options? Hope your journey stays on its current trajectory! Be a good boy, Disco!

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  11. I believe Dante was gelded at 2 and he's edging closer and closer to 17.2hh lol. I do agree with you though about Stallion awareness. We gelded Carlos when he was almost 7 and we continued to treat him situationally like he was a stallion (he did live cover at 6) even though he was a gelding, and there is something about how he developed physically, mentally and emotionally that hasn't been the same with any of my other geldings. It really gave him that spark and look of eagles.

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  12. I have an amateur owner client who has two absolutely wonderfully behaved stallions. It's a similar situation- if they ever get to be too much to handle then they will get gelded, but they also both did very well at their national championship breed show and are really quality horses. The only difference is that she has them on her own property/barn, but I'm always impressed at how well behaved they are both on the farm and out being ridden!

    There have been some loud/slightly unruly stallions back in the barn area at shows that I've been to, but so far I've never been around one being ridden that I ever had concerns about it being dangerous, they all were handled well and focused on jumping.

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  13. I think you should consider moving him to Lisa's temporarily before gelding him, if you need to make that change. Let him create some lovely foals before the point of no return. So many reputable people confirmed that he is nice. It would be a shame to miss that opportunity completely, even if you had to put performance in the back seat for a short time.

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  14. I didn't realize that keeping him a stallion would be an option, but I like it! He's a gorgeous animal and it would be neat to promote him and the welsh breed. I have also more recently heard about the gelding scar issue, which I hadn't heard of previously.

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