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Over the past five years, vet Stephen Ashdown has written many articles, spoken on equine matters and contributed widely to horse magazines.

Here he reproduces in the form of questions and answers about 100 topics, all of them common problems which afflict horses.

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Down Boy
Q In the spring and summer my mare shares a large field with a five-year old gelding.

Last year, when she was in season, he regularly mounted her, cutting her hock on one occasion which made her stiff and required a visit from the vet. In the end, we had to remove her from the field to save her from further harassment and injury. This year he has started to 'get fresh' again. Is it normal for a gelding to behave in this way and is there any danger of my mare catching an infection from him?

A It is quite unusual for a gelding to behave in this way. The reasons for such sexual activity are likely to be related to high levels of male hormone in the gelding, despite the fact that he has been castrated. This is because there is other tissue in the body that's capable of producing such hormones and sometimes these tissues can produce hormones independently of the testicles.

Normally there is little you can do about such behaviour and it is a sensible idea to separate geldings from mares, especially those coming into season, to prevent troublesome situations occurring. In certain cases I have found that you can dampen the ardour of frisky geldings by feeding them plant material supplements that provide the building blocks for female hormones, such as sage and Citrullis colycynthis.

If they remain together in the same field there is obviously some risk of the gelding introducing infection to your mare, as well as inadvertently injuring her with his ardent attentions.

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