Stillwater Farm

To Geld or Not to Geld

Robin Visceglia's avatar

For those of us in the Gypsy Vanner Breed we have usually spent excessive sums of money and time to acquire and/or breed a horse. There is a 50/50 chance that the offspring will be a colt. Out of those colts less than 10% have the chance to be a genetic superstar.

There are many reasons that horse owners do not want to geld their colts or stallions. If you own a stallion or colt that is not part of a well thought out breeding program it should be gelded and not used for breeding purposes. By a well thought out program I am referring to a breeding program that has breed preservation as one of its goals. We need good genetics to preserve the Gypsy Vanner breed. With the ease of shipping semen most mare owners have access to the top genetic superstars in the breed. 

Is your breeding program a well thought out and executed plan – or are you just trying to make some money on your investment by breeding your mare and stallion hoping you will have a commodity to sell? 

Horse owners have an emotional attachment to their stallion for various reasons. Stallions are not people. People can control their instincts to breed. Stallions think about nothing else when it comes springtime and hormones are thick in the air.

People bond to their stallions because they have become the stallion’s herd. I was recently talking to one of our trainers, Heather Caudill, and she was explaining stallion behavior when it comes to training. She said because a stallion has limited or no interaction to any other horses that they rely on their “person” as their companions. They typically never get to bond with another horse. 

A stallion lives in a small paddock or stall with no chance to interact with the herd. No playing, no grooming, no lessons learned from the mare who might not be interested in his sexual prowess. So as his person, you become his surrogate herd. Now you really can’t bear to geld him because he is so special and he is your special stallion.

Have you ever been around a stallion with other horses when it is breeding season? Unless you are a professional it is dangerous to be between a stallion and a mare in season even if it is a Gypsy Vanner Stallion. Those “Golden Retrievers with Hooves” are nowhere to be found when a mare is in heat around a stallion.

So the real point of this blog is to announce that we have gelded Da Vinci. It is not because he is not conformational correct. He is. It is not because he has an undesirable color. He is a highly desirable tri colored horse. It is not because of his attitude. He has a wonderful fun attitude. It is because he does not fit my breeding program. He is smaller than I want to breed so I won’t breed him. Some breeders like the smaller ones and I was hoping that such a farm would want him as a breeding stallion. But, he is now two years old and decisions have to be made on my farm and based on my management practises. I have a well thought out breeding program that I both preach and practice so I am confident in my decision to geld him. He will be a happier horse and a healthier horse. Stallion management is not a problem because he can be pastured with any of our horses. I want my horses to have the best possible environment and having a colt that I am not going to breed standing in a stallion pen all winter is not the best possible environment. 

So think about that young colt in your pasture or that stallion in your barn. Is he really top breeding potential. Does he already have top babies on the ground? Is he winning in the show ring? Has he been evaluated and received top scores as a potential breeding stallion? Most importantly is he happy and are you happy with him. Do you trust him at all times to behave like a gentleman? Is he healthy or does he run the fence line loosing weight and giving himself an ulcer. 

If you breed only two to four mares a year it is more economical to buy semen than standing a stallion. Most importantly it is an opportunity for you to improve and preserve the Gypsy Vanner breed by breeding your mare to a genetic superstar. 

Now go out there and enjoy your gelding!



  • I value your ethics very much. The words of my mentor “It is better to never be used, then mis-used”.  Altho I’ve only admired the pictures of your horses, they are amazing.  You have to protect your herd, your bloodlines and everything that you’ve acomplished over the years.  Making the decision is never easy, Da Vinci will be a better horse because of it.

  • Ms. Visceglia,

    As a Gypsy Vanner lover,and future owner, I appreciate your humane, observant, professional and conscientious statement on the behalf of your horse, Da Vinci.  I gained some additional insight and understanding from this reading.  Thank you.

  • I applaud your article. We feel the same, and it is hard to make the decision
    Doug kneis

  • Wow! I learned so much from your article on to Geld or Not to Geld. Great way to explain it. Thank you so much….angie

  • I have come to a heartfelt understanding and conclusion that to geld is far better for my Suleo, a grandson of Lion King, than to leave him a stallion.  I will get the horse of my dreams everyday, consistently and healthfully.  He will get big and broad, full of energy for me, my lifestyle and be the Gypsy horse just as I have been dreaming of.
    Your article is so very loving and full of consciousness. It was a gift to find it today. I am very grateful. Thank you.

  • i agree totally, too many would want the ego trip of owning a stallion even if it were not in the best interests of the colt, I applaud your decision, Da Vinci is a beauty but he could get hurt and it would not be fair, good job!

  • Thanks for educating me on a somewhat mystery subject among the unitiated. I recently had the opportunity to meet Da Vinci at the Carraige Museum where he is being trained to drive. His beauty, manners and adorable personality gave me those Gypsy shivers that you only get with the “good ones”. You definately have an eye for the essence of this breed.

    Looking forward to making one my very own,

    Lisa Cusimano

  • I had the oppurtunity to meet DiVinci in Florida under David & Susan’s gentle training hands.  He is very special & the new photos have shown how Beautifully he grew into his gorgeous colors, feathers, mane & spectacular tail.  I love him & his face… it must have been very difficult to geld him. I appreciate your compassion & your theory.  DiVinci is lovely and I hope to have someone just like him in my life, someday. Thank you for your devotion to the American Gypsy Vanner Breed & sharing your website with me. Sincerely,  Candice

  • They are truly beautiful ainamls i live in Australia and i was wondering how high can the average vanner jump I’ve tried finding it on the net but gave up so i thought to ask someone who owns or works with them.I was looking at buying oe to keep my gelding company if and when we move house.cheers