I revisited a case earlier in the week, and it reminded me of how prevalent gelding scar issues are and how much tension they can cause in horses. Anecdotally, it has been found that around a third of all geldings will have some issue relating to the castration scar. When you think about it, that’s quite a few!
Now, this is not necessarily due to any issue during the castration itself. You could have the most textbook of castrations, but still get scar problems. It’s due to the sheer fact that the testicular chords and fascia have been cut and recoil into the abdominal cavity. Here, the normal bleeding that occurs and the sealing of the free cut end of the deferent duct and chord can result in adhesions. These adhesions can lead to tension as they restrict the normal, free motion of the surrounding structures, particularly in the groin/inguinal ring.
The tension could therefore affect the nearby muscle, fascia and organs. In some cases, due to the normal anatomy of the deferent duct being looped over the ureter, any strain on the deferent duct due to adhesions can put pressure on the ureter and affect the kidney.
Clinically, I tend to find that these geldings will have a lumbo-sacral issue quite comparable to a mare with ovarian issues, initially at L1-3 then spreading from there. The tension in the lumbars often goes hand in hand with a sacral positional change. This can be felt by the rider frequently as an issue going into canter and as a lack of propulsion.
As with most things, the problem spreads over time. So what started in the groin will affect the lumbo-sacral region and the hind limbs. It can then move forward via the spine to the withers and neck or via the diaphragm to the sternum and neck. The longer the problem goes untreated the more areas become affected. As a result, those cases that have been left the longest take the longest to fix as there are more secondary areas involved!
Treatment involves both an external and internal manipulation to remove the tension. The internal manipulation is via a gloved arm under sedation, and I have found it to be quite successful.
So remember, if you’re gelding is underperforming then this could need investigating and addressing! Get it sorted asap to regain that mobility and regain performance.