Sunday, July 3, 2011

Cryptorchidism rears its ugly head...

Thus far, I have posted only great things about Joey. He has been a nice horse. He has shown steady improvement in all areas. I was really hoping he was going to be all that I had hoped he would be.

EXCEPT for a few things. The first time I turned him out with the rest of my herd, which included a mare and two geldings at the time, he charged at every horse in the herd, acted very possessive of the mare, and bit all the other geldings to hell. He reared on his back legs and was very aggressive in rearing to paw at my alpha gelding. I had never seen the alpha gelding have to respond that vigorously to get another gelding in line. And I watched the whole thing; Joey initiated the aggression, no question. That entire episode lasted about 15 minutes tops, before I caught the horses up and separated everyone.

After that, Joey stayed in the back paddock for a week, to allow him to interact with the other horses in a more safe manner. Later, I tried to turn him out with another colt gelding that joined my herd. They had an acre to themselves. I had to stop that experiment after just a day or two, because the other colt gelding was getting severely bitten by Joey.

So except for a few brief periods of time, Joey has been by himself, either in an acre turnout area, or in a large paddock. He just never seemed to get along with the rest of the herd.

A few weeks ago, my mare Lola came into heat. She was very brazen in her attempts to get Joey's attention. And he returned her attention. It was very difficult to walk him anywhere near her while she was in heat, because he would tug on the lead line and whinny loudly to her. At one point, I had him in a stall next to her for all of 5 minutes before I had to pull him out and move him away from her because he was acting as if he would tear the stall down to get to her. He was on his rear legs, and looked ready to mount her.

The neighboring mares came into heat about the same time as Lola, and while the other geldings just acted normally, Joey would whinny loudly and pay gobs of attention to the mares.

I took Joey to a roping practice, to work the steers in the chute from one end of the arena to the other. Joey worked well, until he spotted a mare, and then he dropped a full erection and began to whinny loudly to her. He was easily distracted and couldn't keep his mind on the cows when she was around.

Also, I had noticed that Joey drops and achieves a full erection often. Just about every time he's handled as a matter of fact.

Through it all, Joey has been easy to work with while riding and in the round pen, as long as a mare isn't anywhere too close and not in heat. But bring a mare too close by, and he will shift all attention to her, and ignore me completely, until she moves off and I get him to focus on me.

This behavior concerned me enough to ask my vet about it. He didn't hesitate in telling me he thought we should check Joey's testosterone levels. So at the recent vet check, we did that, in addition to pulling wolf teeth and floating his teeth.

The results are definitive, and we did use HCG to stimulate and checked levels 1 and 2 hours post HCG. Joey has cryptorchidism. His testosterone levels were CLEARLY abnormally high for a "gelding".

Joey is a great horse, but his behavior towards other geldings and mares is now explained by the effects of testosterone, and the fact that he is not a true gelding.

I am in talks with the breeder that owned Joey at the time of his "castration" and with the person from whom I bought the horse. I hope we can all work this out. Joey needs corrective surgery. Deep palpation and inspection while sedated for the teeth floating revealed no testicles, so the testicle or two that he retains, is higher than can be felt, and he will need surgery to remove it (them).

I am really sad about this whole thing. I think Joey is neat little horse. But for what I paid for him, and for what I want, he isn't going to work out. He will need a surgery estimated to cost $1,000 and a 6-10 week recovery period. That takes him out of the summer fun and training I had hoped to do with him. And there is no assurance that the surgery will correct his aggressive behavior, particularly at this late age. I am hopeful for him, however, and beyond correcting his behavior, I want to him to have the surgery to remove the intra-abdominal testicles(s) that are at high risk of developing cancer.


Unknown said...

Will you send him back then?

It's a tough call, but either way the summer of training is likely out. It's too darn hot anyway.

Anonymous said...

I've got a new, somewhat aggressive, somewhat study gelding too - but he's not as stallionish as your guy and I think he's in the range of normal gelding behavior - very distracted by mares and will herd the other geldings away from them, but no overt sexual behavior.

My understanding is that most late geldings are effective in changing the horse's behavior, although as you point out the surgery isn't cheap.

Good luck in making your decision.

Trailrider said...

My goal is to return him for a full refund. I paid a premium price for him as a gelding. I would not have purchased him as a stallion.

I'm already out $600 for various veterinary care he needed, including the testing of his hormone levels.

My luck with horse people doing the right thing has been abysmal. It's one of the reasons I hate buying horses. But I'm going to remain optimistic, and hope that the seller will do the honorable, ethical thing and take the horse back and refund my money.