There are many advantages to neutering horses.
Overpopulation can be prevented
In some areas where mares and stallions are able to run together, overpopulation can often become a problem. During difficult economic climates it is difficult to sell these unwanted horses and many owners are reluctant to sell their horses for meat. Some horses are abandoned on common land or marshes to fend for themselves where many experience painfully overgrown hooves, become emancipated and show other, often fatal, signs of neglect. Horse charities are finding it increasingly difficult to home these animals and so little can be done other than a quick euthanasia rather than leaving them to lead extremely tough lives in harsh conditions. The obvious solution appears to castrate the male horses before overpopulation can occur.
Hereditary diseases in males and females can be prevented from continuing down further generations if they are quickly prevented to breed. In addition, humans prefer to selectively breed their horses to produce desirable, and reduce unfavourable, characteristics for racing or shows. This may also be done to deal with the behavioural aspects of some horses. Often, the preferred method for this is to breed a very docile horse with a high intensity horse in the hope of producing alert, sweet natured and attentive offspring.
The advantages of castrating a male horse
Reduces unwanted behaviour
By castrating a stallion, the veterinarian is removing the testicles which produce the hormone testosterone. It is this hormone which is responsible for stallion-like behaviour including fighting and mounting. It also reduces the risk of the horse harming itself and others as a result of hormone induced aggressive behaviour. Neutering thus allows the horses to be kept together and not isolated from the rest of the herd. This is especially important since horses need company of its own species in order to experience happy lives. The castration will also usually make the male horse more easily handled by the owner and less distracted by other horses when working. The sooner the castration is performed the more likely the stallion-like behaviour will be reduced.
Gelded horses grow taller than stallions
It was commonly thought that the stallion is larger than the gelding and so this is why some people may delay the time when they have their stallion castrated. However, without testosterone the growth plates of the bone do not close and this leads to the gelding growing usually around half an inch taller than if it had been left entire.
It can prevent or cure certain diseases
One such disease which can either be prevented or cured by gelding is testicular cancer. This is one of the reasons why gelding is statistically said to prolong a horse’s life as well as the decreased likelihood of it getting into possibly fatal fights with other members of the herd.
The advantages of spaying a female horse
It is uncommon in the UK to spay a mare. This is due to the high cost of the procedure and the high risks associated with such a major operation.
Ovarian tumours can be removed
This is usually the main reason for spaying a mare. Ovarian tumours can be very uncomfortable and affect the mare’s behaviour during these periods of pain. As a result, unless the mare is to be bred from, spaying can become advisable.