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Buying stallion to geld and ride

From: Corinne

I have been looking for a suitable horse for a few months as I have now out grown my Arab. I placed an advert on the internet and recieved countless offers of horses for loan and for sale, but the first one I was offered really caught my eye (Thoroughbred / Irish Draught X). But there is a problem. He is currently 9 years old and a stallion. His current owner is going to have him gelded shortly. I have been informed that he can no longer be used as a breeding stallion because of an injury to his foot and the people at his stud have difficulty in getting him to breed naturally anyway. He is currently kept stabled all the time, but because he is at stud, there is a stallion pen to turn him out into for a few hours securely.

I have been warned by my very concerned mother that he may never lose his stallion ways although he shows little interest in mares. She also thinks that I may have difficulty finding a livery that may take him even as a gelding because of his career as a breeding stallion. He is fine around other horses and does not kick, crib or rear. But, I am worried whether his excellent personality and temperament may change after he is gelded. Is it likely that he will become frustrated when stabled and would I need to tell people to keep mares away just in case he gets a little excited? He has been taken to large shows before and has never been any bother in the collecting ring - I intend to use him for show jumping and eventing. But I have been warned he may kick if another horse gets too close to his back end.

Could you please advise me on these issues, perhaps you can give me some unbiased advice, and do you think requesting a loan period before I buy would be viable? It would be a great dissapointment (and a waste of money) to find out that he loses some of his character and ride-ability. Thanks, I hope you will answer my question! I have spoken to others about this issue and have found it very difficult to gain neutral advice!

Hi Corinne! Don't worry about changes in the horse's personality because of being gelded. Gelding is generally associated with improvements in attitude. I would worry much more about other things.

To begin with, your mother is right about the difficulties involved in finding a suitable home for him. Much of his behaviour is "learned behaviour" and won't disappear just because he's being gelded. He is likely to continue responding to mares, for example, and will likely mount them if given the opportunity (in turnout, for example). I would not consider him a candidate for a mixed-group turnout paddock or field - he would need to be kept at a facility where geldings live in one field and mares in another, preferably with high, solid fencing between the two fields. But however you arrange it, the more turnout you can give him, the better off he will be. Shutting him into a stable, especially if he is near mares in season, will just create problems for everyone, and that can create liability issues for you as well as for the stable-owner.

Second: You didn't give any details about the horse's injury, but the old saying "No foot, no horse" is still true. And any foot injury that is sufficiently severe to prevent a stallion's use for breeding is likely to be severe enough to interfere with, or prevent, his athletic performance. If he has a damaged hind foot and can no longer safely mount mares, he is unlikely to be able to learn upper-level dressage because of the need for collection, which involves carrying more weight on the hind legs. If he has a damaged front foot and can no longer dismount safely from a mare he is breeding, he's unlikely to be able to gallop or jump. I certainly wouldn't see him as a prospective eventer or show jumper, under the circumstances.

This isn't about the horse's personality. I shouldn't think that he would lose his character - if he has a nice personality and temperament as a stallion, he should be able to retain all of that once he's gelded. Many horses will kick if another horse gets too close behind them - you might simply need to be extra-careful when you're in company, and be sure to put a red ribbon in his tail at all times when you're out and about. Those are issues you might well have with any equine: stallion, mare, or gelding. But the real problems will be suitability and soundness. If you are determined to purchase this horse, at least bring in your own vet - that is, an equine specialist who is not connected with the seller in any way - for a comprehensive pre-purchase examination. Be sure that the vet understands how the horse will be kept (you are not planning to retire him to your large grassy field with the solid, eight-foot fences, you'll need to find him a stall at the local livery stable) and what you plan to do with him (you are not looking for a "light riding only" prospect or for a companion horse for another retiree, you want to gallop and jump in competition).

My advice would be to let this one go by, and keep looking for the right horse. If you want to do show-jumping or eventing, you'll need to find a horse that is entirely sound and that has been trained for such activities. Beginning training at age 9 isn't a bad thing in itself, but when you're talking about beginning jumping/eventing training with a just-gelded horse with an injured foot, it's a formula for disaster, not for success in athletic competition. Be patient. The right horse for you WILL come along eventually.


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