Calming a Mustang Stud
Last fall I adopted a wild mustang
stud. It is my first horse. Should this guy be fixed? Will it calm his
wild and spooky attitude? Can you tell me how you do it? I want to start
training him this spring.
Having your mustang stallion fixed is
probably a good plan, particularly since he is your first horse. Let's
start with what it is and how it is done. The horse "fixing"
procedure is known by many names. The most popular in this country are
gelding or cutting, or the medical term castration. The procedure
involves surgically removing the testicles. It is a veterinary procedure
that can be done on the farm, in most cases. Depending on factors the
veterinarian will carefully consider at the time, gelding can be done
either under heavy sedation with the horse standing or under brief
general anesthesia (asleep and lying down). Once the horse is sedated
and prepared, the actual surgery usually takes only a few minutes.
Again, depending on the age of the horse and the farm conditions, the
veterinarian will recommend observation and aftercare for discomfort and
swelling. This can include medications, as well as daily hosing of the
scrotal area and hind limbs. Recommendations also will likely include
light exercise in as clean and insect-free environment as possible. Your
veterinarian will explain the risks and the specific care for your horse
and farm situation.
Now, what can you expect behavior-wise
from your gelding mustang? Removal of the testicles eliminates the major
hormones that drive male sexual and aggressive behavior. So, after
castration, the behavior of most horses changes. The horse generally
will show considerably less interest in fighting with other males or
herding and breeding mares. Geldings vary in just how much stallion-like
behavior they retain. For example, some will still herd, tease, and
mount mares as if they were a stallion.
Most geldings are less energetic and
strong-willed than stallions. So, people often describe them as
"quieting down." But your question about your mustang's
"wild and spooky" behavior raises an important point.
Castration alone will not fix "wild and spooky." A mare which
has no male hormones can be just as wild and spooky as a stallion.
Taming will require gentle, non-threatening handling that builds trust
between the horse and people and acclimates it to all the new sights and
sounds of a domestic farm. A single wild mustang is especially vigilant
and reactive to everything in its new environment since he can no longer
rely on herdmates to share the job of looking out for and responding to
You might have heard of some of the
horse training or "starting" techniques that are particularly
helpful with previously wild or unhandled horses. Variations have been
popularized by Pat Parelli, John Lyons, Monty Roberts, Linda Tellington-Jones,
and others. Basic round pen work described by most of these trainers is
a very good way to start with an unhandled or wild horse. Any of the
gentle training or starting methods are a good way for a first-time
horse owner to get organized. Your veterinarian might be able to
recommend someone locally who could mentor you with your mustang. I
imagine it would be helpful for you to have someone show you
step-by-step how they succeeded with taming and training a mustang. If
you have access to the Internet, you can likely find resources specific
to mustang taming.