WRANGLING ON THE RANGE #95
Can castration turn a stallion in non-pro's horse?
WILL GELDING 'WORK'?
I have a chance to buy a welltrained stallion of show qualy at a
reasonable price (he didn't pan out as a sire). My plan is to
geld him to make him my nonpro performance horse. Will gelding
improve his reliability in terms of temperament? Do the potential
upsides outweigh the health risks?
PAULA ROLFE, CALIFORNIA
It depends, Paula. If the stallion in question has a reasonly
good disposition to start ith, then castrating him can, given
time and good training/handling, help his behavior to become more
consistent. That is, he can become more like a gelding and less
like a stallion.
Be aware, however, that the sexual conduct of stallions is
influenced by their experience as well as by their hormones. So
although castrating a stallion removes the hormones, he still has
all his experience as a stallion stored in his memory, and that
can continue to influence his behavior. Time and training can
help to modify that behavior, but if the horse was a bad actor to
begin with, you're likely to wind up with a bad-acting gelding
If the stallion has a willing disposition and accepts training
well, then your odds are better that he'll be the kind of gelding
you'll be successful riding and showing.
As for the health considerations, older stallions are at greater
risk of postoperative hemorrhage than are horses castrated at the
usual time (typically between 6 months and 2 years of age). With
proper technique, however, this complication can most often be
avoided. The veterinarian performing the surgery should take
extra precautions during the procedure, as well as prescribe a
detailed regimen of aftercare.
MARC LAXINETA, DVM Temecula, California robovet.net
NEW ARTHRITIS TREATMENT
My 12-year-old Paso Fino is avoring a rear leg, and my
veterinarian believes arthritis s to blame. I've recently heard
of some new injectable treatments that might be helpful. What's
available now to horses beyond just cortisone shots? SUSAN
You're wise to consider all options, Susan. Although injectable
medications such as corticosteroids and hyaluronic acid (HA) are
indeed helpful in managing osteoarthritis in the equine athlete,
these treatments do have certain drawbacks.
For example, at high concentrations, corticosteroids can actually
enhance cartilage destruction, and HA can provide insufficient
anti-inflammatory relief when used alone in horses with moderate
or advanced osteoarthritis.
Fortunately, what you've heard is correct-there are now
alternatives for effectively managing some of these cases. One
such treatment, known as TRAP therapy, targets interleukin-1, the
major cytokine-or signaling protein-involved in the destruction
of cartilage during the degenerative processes of osteoarthritis.
Injections of interleukin-1 receptor antagonist protein, or TRAP,
work by blocking this cytokine, thereby reducing its ill effects
Early studies using TRAP have shown a decrease in the amount of
joint inflammation and cartilage destruction seen in
osteoarthritis. TRAP is recommended for horses suffering from
mild to moderate osteoarthritis, capsulitis/synovitis, and
osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) lesions, as well as for patients
recovering from arthroscopic surgery.
More TRAP information: Go to HorseandRider.com this month.
Here's how it works. A small amount of blood is drawn from your
horse's jugular vein (after a complete aseptic scrub-extremely
important). The syringe containing the blood is incubated for 24
hours, then the sample is centrifuged and the IRAP serum
collected. Each syringe yields five to six doses of IRAP, but the
number of doses available for use from each collection depends on
the specific joint(s) to be treated. The IRAP is injected
directly into the affected joint(s).
Typical treatment with IRAP consists of a series of injections,
one every seven days, for a total of three doses. Because IRAP is
a naturally occurring protein within the horse's own bloodstream,
immune reactions to the treatment are rare.
Currently this therapy is available mainly at high-level
practices and universities, though a growing number of ambulatory
veterinarians are gaining the capability to process IRAP in their
The cost is variable, but typically ranges from about $1,000 to
$1,200 to draw the blood, process it, and generate three doses
for treatment of a joint. If two joints need treatment, it runs
about $1,600 to $1,800.
Though more expensive than steroids (which cost about $200 to
$400 per joint), IRAP therapy has the potential not only to
reduce inflammation but also to help protect cartilage from
For more information on this new therapy, ask your veterinarian,
or contact your nearest university veterinary hospital.
JOSE GARCIA-LOPEZ, VMD, DACVS Tufts University's Cummings School
of Veterinary Medicine, North Grafton, Massachusetts
Send your horse health, behavior, and hoof-care questions to
jfmfeedback@ earthlink.net. Please include your horse's age,
breed, and gender.
To be continued from time to time