First of all I’d like to preface this blogpost with an apology for taking so long. With the complications, and my non-horsey life also taking it’s toll on me, writing this post took (way) longer than expected.
Ah what an adventure I have forced upon my poor horse. Operation: Bye Bye Balls. It has been a success, if somewhat of a pain in the balls…
His castration had been planned for me since the day I got him, I didn’t want or have any “use” or “need” for a stallion. In Belgium they aren’t common, and a lot of people are scared of them. So I knew I wanted to geld my horse if I ended up buying a stallion.
But then I started to get to know him and dear me, he really was one of the most gentle stallions I’ve ever encountered. He’s so incredibly level headed and in control of himself. Such a good head on this big neck.
But I also knew I wanted to let him settle into his new life a little before I put him under the knife. So I decided to wait a minimum of two months, going on three before I would plan the operation.
The first date we set ended up going by without happening. Why? Well because Sir Æon de Quincewold does not like getting on trailers. And that week it had snowed and the snow melted, froze, melted and froze again to the point that the road leading to his stable was a nice little ice-rink. So we couldn’t leave.
Then the date was pushed back a week. Which meant we had time to work on trailer loading. A friend from insta directed me to a girl who follows a course which specializes, amongst other things, in trailer loading. She was fantastic. We had three sessions, and by the end of it Quincy would load. Not like a pro, not like a trailer lover, but he would load. (We will be resuming this training in a month or two to make him a real trailer-pro!)
The fateful day: “Operation: Bye Bye Balls” was rolling
On February 4th we left the River Ranch at the crack of dawn (check out the gorgeous sunrise!), and drove to the clinic. This is the veterinary science division of the Gent University. A very good clinic for all types of animals.
We registered and brought Quincy into the clinic. He was very impressed and a little intimidated by the atmosphere. So the first thing we had to do was have him weighed, he weighs a healthy 550kg (1212 pounds). This was not easy to do! This guy is so curious and so easily stressed that having to stand still at that moment was not really possible… Add to that the fact that this is a teaching hospital so there were… around 8-10 people around us at this point.
Side story: coming up!
So, short sideline.
And then, the next thing we had to do… and this may come as a surprise to some, was to go see a mare to get some pre-ejaculate fluid to get it tested. Why you ask? Well… take a wild guess.
But, more interestingly, how did my “wild stallion” react to being put literally a meter away from a mare in heat? Well, in true Quincy fashion he was calm, and honestly, rather uninterested. So I jokingly asked them if they maybe had a white gelding, that that would get him going more… They did not believe me haha, but I’m fairly certain of myself.
But all this is another story and I will make a short blog update on the subject soon!
After meeting the mare he was allowed back to his stall, with a grazing muzzle so he couldn’t eat. And then Alexandra and I had to wait. An urgent case had come up and the surgeon was busy with the other horse. So we waited a bit. Quincy was not happy, he was SO hungry poor guy.
Bye Bye Balls: happening now….!
Finally it was time for him to get his first part of the anaesthesia. He became drowsy and then two students led him away to do a last check and bring him to the room where he would be put under. This room is actually really cool, it’s entirely padded and dark to make it safe for the horses to be put under. He was to be put entirely under, and then horses fall. In this room that can happen safely. We weren’t allowed in there, so we watched from behind a window. All of a sudden we heard a resounding “THUNK” and the door opened and his head just kinda slowly fell to the ground.
And here is where it got a little iffy feeling. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen an animal completely under anaesthesia?
Well, there’s really no other way to put it. They look dead. Dead weight, open eyes and tongue out of the mouth dead.
So as you can imagine, not the bestest sight to behold. And then came the really creepy part of it. They had to hoist him, this is done by attaching “handcuffs” to his legs, connected to the hoist system. The reason the guy is legit hanging onto his tail is to “straighten” him, so he wouldn’t be swinging or not land on the right spot on the table. And the assistant in blue was supporting and carrying his head, so it did not dangle or hit anything.
Then they intubated him and started scrubbing his belly and scrotum area to be able to make the incisions. Again, this is a teaching hospital so there were many people in attendance, one even getting a course on anaesthesia. Since I wasn’t allowed into the operating room, Alexandra (who is a student there) put on a coat and went in to film part of the operation. I must say, it was all very impressive to see. Since Quincy was a full grown stallion his testicles were well attached, securely. The surgeon really had to visibly exercise a lot of strength to be able to pull them out. Did not look pleasant, I can tell you that much.
Both testicles were loosened, clamps were put on the tubes and they were cut at the same time.
Closing him up only lasted about 15minutes.
The way they did this is by making three layers of sutures, two on different levels internally and one on the outer layer of skin.
Here you can see the external sutures, and what his scrotum looked like on the day itself. The yellow is a disinfectant spray, nothing to worry about!
He was then hoisted again and placed back into the padded room. Now rule of thumb is that horses take as long to wake up and stand up again as they have been under. Quincy was under for more or less an hour, and it took him an hour to wake up. While they are recovering there are always people monitoring them and making sure they don’t stand up before they are ready for it.
Alexandra knew one of the guys monitoring and asked him to text her when he was awake. So we went and had lunch. When we got the text we headed back and Quincy was back in his stall.
He looked truly high. I’ve never seen a really drugged up horse and I must say he looked really pitiful and sad.
He was also so so hungry he kept trying to eat with the grazing muzzle on and would get so frustrated. Really a sad and painful sight.
He was only allowed to eat 3 hours after the procedure. This is so they are certainly awake enough and there won’t be a risk of choking. The sutures were clean and well done, and he was doing well.
So I ended up having to leave him there for the night. Which was so hard not gonna lie, did not like the idea of him having to stay there. But the next day I was there bright and early and he was doing fine! I got his medicine and checked him out. A friend from the stable came with the trailer to bring us home and everything was looking good and going well.
Bye Felicia! So done with the hospital! (If only we knew….)
When we arrived home he was so happy and ran through the hallway full of energy and still feeling a stallion. So I put him in his stall, gave him his medicine (which was NOT easy) and gave him his food.
My little bunny was exhausted, and he laid down during the daytime for the first time in 4 months. I couldn’t resist and sat with him for 10minutes, feeding him treats and just being calm with him for a time.
He made it clear he wasn’t truly comfortable with it so I did get up and leave after a bit, additional stress was not something he needed at that moment.
The medicine I had to give him consisted of anti-inflammatories and antibiotics. The anti-inflammatories were easy to get into him, didn’t taste too bad and put it on his treats, it worked. The other medicine, the antibiotics, were hell. They taste HORRIBLE, and yes, I did try a drop of it because I wanted to know why he was putting up such a fight. So this was going to be and to stay a fight.
And before anyone gets their panties in a bunch, yes, I *DID* try clicker training him the syringe and medicine. No, it did not work, it was just too gross for him to willingly take, which honestly, is something I do not resent him for.
I will, on recommendation of a friend, work on some medical procedures he needs to be comfortable with from now on, as a way to sidestep the drama we endured with the syringe. If anyone has ideas on what to work on, please, feel free to leave a comment or send me a message on instagram. For now I’ve worked on the syringe, letting me touch and palpate his ears, he’s fine with his temperature being taken and on lifting his lips/looking into his mouth.
Friends, this is where I will leave you for the time being, next week the sage continues!
Greetings from Belgium, Q&A.