‘MTSU On the Record’ delves into horse gelding saf...

‘MTSU On the Record’ delves into horse gelding safety with university veterinarian

Veterinarians and their insights into some facets of equine reproduction were the topic of a recent “MTSU On the Record” radio program.

Host Gina Logue’s interview with Dr. John Haffner, an associate professor of horse science and holder of the Miller Chair of Equine Reproduction in MTSU’s School of Agriculture, first aired June 18 on WMOT-FM Roots Radio 89.5 and online at You can listen to their conversation above.

Dr. John Haffner, School of Agriculture

Dr. John Haffner

With two colleagues, Haffner conducted an online survey of veterinarians to learn about their experiences with castrating horses, a medical practice referred to as “gelding.” Many owners who don’t plan to breed their male horses have the animals castrated to curb aggressive behavior.

Sometimes, however, depending on the method used, the horse’s intestines can protrude through the surgical site during the operation. This complication, known as evisceration, can be fatal to the horse if not resolved immediately.

Haffner wanted to learn if some horse breeds were more prone than others to evisceration during castration, what methods the veterinarians used and whether the horse was standing or lying down during the surgery.

In his survey, Haffner found that, while eviscerations were rare, they were more likely to occur when the veterinarian used the “twisting” method of rotating and severing the spermatic cord, rather than the emasculation process, which crushes the cord.

Haffner said that he prefers using the twisting method with a device he’s modified to simplify the process.

“It’s a quarter-inch round stainless steel rod that has been bent at the end and then bent back onto itself that looks kind of like a hook,” Haffner said. “I can put the (spermatic) cord in that, and it can’t get loose. Then I can just spin it slowly.”

Haffner presented his findings at the 2018 American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention, which was held Dec. 1-5 in San Francisco, California.

To hear previous “MTSU On the Record” programs, visit the searchable “Audio Clips” archives at

For more information about the radio program, contact Logue at 615-898-5081 or WMOT-FM at 615-898-2800.