Note: This is Part 6 in the Series, click here to start at the beginning.
Makah’s castration story starts back at the rescue, when he was separated from his herd after Kaliah and Siyone gave birth. Understandably, I did not want him to impregnate the mares again, so I drove up with a bunch of arena panels and the rescue owner partitioned him off from the mamas and babies.
To say he was heartbroken to be separated and isolated, doesn’t even come close. The rescue owner had called every vet in the area, or willing to travel, to try and find someone willing to geld an unhandled 3-year-old wild stallion. And no one would agree to perform the castration.
My friend Kesia, up north towards Smithers B.C., had agreed to take the 5 wildies to her place until I could find land for all of them. We were waiting for the fillies to be old enough to travel, and for Makah to be castrated. There was no vet in Kesia’s area willing to do the castration and she had 2 more mares in her existing herd, so the castration had to be done before I trailered them up to her place.
I arrived at the rescue to find Makah-Mahpee standing immobile, head dropped, his face wedged into a corner of his pen. All the light had gone from his eyes, he barely flicked an ear towards me and deep despair rolled off him in waves. Enough.
The rescue owner had also just found a vet willing to do the castration, but he was down on the coast – where my herd was! So that decided things. I could not leave Makah in this terrible state a minute longer, so I made the decision to trailer him down to my place in Langley.
When the trailer arrived a few days later, he walked straight on, without a backward glance. He arrived at my place in the evening – the same day that Cobra had arrived earlier. Having already dealt with Montaro and Jax when they were stallions, I did my best to create a stallion arena from 2 layers of steel arena panels, with 5 feet of empty space in between the 2 lines of panels. The more separation from mares, the better!
My idea was for Makah to settle in, and gently learn how to wear a halter and be okay with human touch, so he would not be traumatized more than necessary during the procedure. Makah, however, had a different idea!
The day after he arrived, he asked me to call the vet. I argued, giving all my reasons to take it slowly and give him time to adapt, but he replied, “I cannot take this separation a minute longer, call the vet!!” He was desperate to be with other horses. It was so against his essential nature to be alone, it was literally destroying him.
So right then and there, I pulled out my cellphone in front of him and called the vet on speakerphone. The vet said he could come the next day!
What followed was a two-day saga of the vet lassoing Makah and then gradually working with him, using Natural Horsemanship (pressure-release) techniques to be able to inject the necessary sedatives into Makah. After the first exhausting day, the vet called a colleague to come out the following day to assist.
The following day Makah not only resisted however he could, but he was even fighting off the drugs! The other horses gathered round and young Juno was the most concerned over what was happening to Makah.
The vet marvelled that he had already administered enough drugs to kill a normal horse and Makah was still standing on all four feet and resisting. It was simply agonizing to watch and I telepathically yelled at Makah: “What are you doing??! You ASKED me to call the vet! Why are you fighting everything?”
He replied, “I know it will happen. But if I do not fight with everything I’ve got, then I have no honour.”
Arrggghh – bloody masculine macho bullshit!! He sounded just like an Iroquois warrior. Luckily the two vets were male and had nothing but admiration and respect for him – even when they had barely finished the operation and he suddenly regained consciousness and shot straight up into the air, like someone coming out of an ejector seat.
He recovered quickly from the surgery and I soon began letting the other horses, one at a time, in to eat with him. Keeping a close eye on things, as I did not want him torn open or to start bleeding from sudden movement.
It is best for a castrated horse to be able to move as soon as possible, as this aids the flushing and healing process. And of course, Makah wanted to be back with herdmates as soon as possible. I found it worked best to let him out during the daytime while I was there to keep an eye on things, and then he would ask to come back into the arena as he got tired. Horses are very connected to their own body wisdom. As long as they are embodied and empowered, it’s best to let them direct their healing.
As the other males (Montaro, Jax, Cobra, Juno) had been present for his entire ordeal, they knew exactly what he’d gone through and what state he was in. Of course, all of them had also been castrated, so they had firsthand experience of the healing process required. There was never a time where I had to intervene as they gradually worked out herd ranking and relationships over the next couple of weeks.
I also didn’t have to worry about him impregnating Audelina with any leftover sperm (who was very keen from the second he arrived!) as Jax would literally not let him near her. And if Jax was ever out of sight, Montaro stepped in.
Read Part 7 of this series…