One day, you find that your horse who has been castrated is now mounting a mare. You quickly blame the vet for the incomplete castration that he has done before.
Well, there may be another reason for the stallion-like behavior in your gelding.
This article will indicate the reasons for odd behavior in castrated horses, what happens with a proud cut horse, and what to do with a cryptorchid stallion.
What is a proud cut horse?
A “proud cut horse” is the term that refers to a gelding horse, who has been castrated but all or a part of one testis still remains.
In a normal castration, the vet should have to remove 2 testes and the associated epididymis. If one testis has not totally descended into the scrotum, it results in incomplete castration.
Well, removing only one testis is considered unethical and improper. As the testosterone is still produced in the remaining testicular tissue, the proud cut will display behavior like a stallion.
Why are horses castrated?
Well, some people may think that gelding is cruel, and wonder why a horse has to be castrated. Actually, horse castration is to control breeding and reduce aggressive behavior in a horse. Also, horses with inferior bloodlines will be likely for castration.
In common, geldings are much easier to handle and train. Or even when a horse has good bloodlines, he may also be castrated if he is too aggressive to train.
The gelding also helps horses keep focusing on the training. Indeed, a stallion is easily distracted by mares and fillies which makes him difficult in learning. In this case, the racehorse surely cannot remain a stallion.
Why there is stallion-like behavior in gelding?
Stallion-like behavior in a horse means mounting mares, screeching at other horses, fighting, erections, and aggressive behavior to humans and other animals.
Stallion-like behavior after castration is highly unlikely to be caused if the castration is done properly. It is only because of incomplete castration that a part of a testis is not removed (a proud cut horse). This remaining testis will produce testosterone and make the horse behave like a stallion.
Usually, the castration is done when the horse is young. If the castration surgery is a failure to remove a testis, the horse will grow up with an expression of stallion-like behavior.
If a stallion is castrated at an older age, he might retain some stallion-like behavior. Despite the testosterone production is totally eliminated, his learned behaviors such as mounting mares and aggression may persist.
Can a proud cut horse still breed?
Well, the answer is no, although testosterone is still produced in a proud cut horse.
With no testicular tissue in a gelding, testosterone levels in the blood will be very low (less than 100 pg/ml). A healthy stallion with 2 full testes usually has blood testosterone levels of 500-1,000 pg/ml or even higher.
The testosterone levels in a cryptorchid stallion are higher than in a gelding but lower than in a healthy stallion (often from 100-500 pg/ml).
Moreover, sperm production in proud cut horse testes is inhibited because of the higher temperature in the scrotum.
Hence, a proud cut horse can tease mares, gain an erection, and ejaculate, but is infertile.
What to do with a proud cut horse?
Besides the stallion-like behavior, a proud cut horse can have an increased risk of medical conditions such as testicular tumors, and torsion of the spermatic cord. So, any remaining testis must be removed.
If your horse still has stallion-like behavior after gelding, you can ask the veterinarian to run tests on him. The tests include rectum palpation of the abdomen, an ultra-sonographic examination of the abdomen, and a hormonal assay.
This test is to determine whether the reason for this masculine behavior is just his previously learned behavior or incomplete castration.
If the reason is previously learned behavior, your horse can be treated with stricter training techniques or isolating him from other horses. With your patience, I believe his behavior can rehabilitate.
If the reason is incomplete castration, the retained testis must be removed by conventional surgery or laparoscopy. In this case, the masculine behavior which is induced by hormones can be temporarily suppressed by immunizing against either LHRH or GnRH. However, these vaccines are not commercially available.
In the past, people used to castrate their horses on their own. Nowadays, it is better to get help from a veterinarian.
Before castrating, your veterinarian should be able to feel both testes in the scrotum. If they cannot definitively feel both, the castration should not be done at that time. Hope that the castrations are all successful, and there will be no proud cut horse at all.