FAQ – Equine Castration Aftercare

If you have had your horse castrated or are planning to, have a look at this article. Your vet may have their own aftercare instructions, however if you were not given any or had questions and could not get a hold of your vet, this guideline may help determine the next steps.

Thank you to Dr. Meghan Wehl for the info.


Castration is surgical removal of the testicles. The procedure is performed with the horse recumbent (lying down) under a short acting general anaesthesia. The procedure is performed with sterile instruments and using routine surgical preparation. As the time of the procedure an injection of an anti-inflammatory and an antibiotic is given. This increases comfort after castration and reduced the occurrence of infection. If a tetanus vaccination has not been administered within the last 6 months, then vaccination at the time of the procedure will also be required. Note that the surgical incision is left open (i.e. not sutured) to facilitate drainage and healing.

Potential Complications
Although castration is a routine surgical procedure, certain complications can develop including:

Bleeding: There is likely to be some bleeding from the surgical site for up to 48 hours after surgery. You should always be able to “count the drips”. Any bleeding faster than this requires veterinary attention.
Infection / Swelling: If the incision closes prematurely then infection can be sealed inside. If the scrotal area swells to more than 2 times its pre-surgical size or if your horse’s rectal temperature exceeds 38.5°C (101.3°F), infection should be suspected. The aftercare instructions outlined below should help prevent swelling and infection.
• Inguinal Hernia:
In some horses the opening of the abdominal wall (inguinal canal) through which the testicles descend into the scrotum is abnormally large or flexible. In these horses, the intestines and other abdominal tissue can pass through the inguinal opening (herniated). Though inguinal hernias are uncommon, they are a serious and life threatening complication.
• Pregnancy: A recently castrated gelding can still get a mare in foal for some time after castration because of sperm remaining in the conducting system. Recently castrated geldings should be kept away from females for a minimum of 30 days (preferably 6 weeks).

• Confine the horse to a small yard or stable for the first 24 hours. This should be in a clean, dry and non-dusty environment.
• The horse should be checked at least hourly for 8 hours after surgery, then at least twice daily for the next week.
• After the first 24 hours the horse should be exercised for a minimum of 20 minutes twice daily for the next week. This can include fast walking in hand, trotting or lunging.
• After the first 24 hours the legs and surgery site can be cold hosed with unpressurised running CLEAN water for 20 minutes twice daily with a HORIZONTAL stream, NEVER hosing up into the surgical site.

Please call your vet immediately if:
• You have any questions concerning the castration and healing of the surgical site.
• Your horse acts depressed, is lame or won’t eat following the procedure. He should always maintain a good appetite and attitude.
• You observe excessive swelling of the scrotum or sheath (i.e. > 2 times the pre-surgical size).
• Your horse’s temperature in the morning is >38.5°C (101.3°F).
• You observe more than a slow drip of blood or abnormal drainage from the scrotal incision. Bleeding is usually only a potential complication in the first 24 hours after the procedure.
• You observe any pink or red material hanging from the surgical site.

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