Thoughts/?s re: cryptorchid ponies

cryporchidI posted this in a Mini Horse breeding forum and thought I’d put it here as well, along with the various replies and my own thoughts and what we ultimately do.

This one is long – stating some history, stating current happenings and then asking my questions & going into what I’m looking at doing.  Grab that cuppa “java” or maybe even something much stronger – you may need it!  Your feet may not be up for long, LOL.

I’ve been breeding Shetland ponies and Shetland pony X’s for 21 years now (and other breeds of horses before that).  We have had small numbers overall, though, with some years no foals at all.  I’ve bred a total of 16 stud colts sired by 4 stallions and had a handful of others that arrived either at the side of a purchased mare or in utero.  I don’t remember the number of colts we had when we were raising Paint horses when I was a youth (but our fillies out numbered the colts).

Until now, I’ve always had our stallions/colts with no problems.  ALL of our colts have had two noticeable testicles “down” at birth, but at least a couple of vets have mentioned that some of them were “hard to find” while standing later at older ages for checking before drugging them for castration.  The last 2 taken to the Vet School were questioned until drugging/relaxed and suddenly – “OH, there they are”.

Friday, September 16th 2016,  i took two male Shetland ponies to the Vet school – where vet students were to castrate them for us.  The older one, 2011 model, was determined to have a very small, somewhat “squishy” right side testicle by two different students, then later was found to be a cryptorchid (no one is exactly sure what the two were feeling OR what I’d felt previously when I checked).  The just 2 weeks short of being 1 year old colt was determined to be a double cryptorchid (honestly, I hadn’t checked him since he was foaled – he was a “we have an extra spot, can you fill it?” take to an appointment.  I do know that he is developing studly characteristics and CAN get a full erection and was trying to breed mares at 9 months of age).  This was after being drugged to get them to relax and then checked by the two vet instructors, as well as the 5 students.

To have them castrated at the vet school would be between $800 – 1,500 per pony.  I was told to check with other Vet hospitals to see who may have a surgical suite and what prices they would charge and what the possible after care would look at (it may be full abdominal surgery, after all, especially for the double crypt – they were not in the inguinal canal and would need US/MRI or? to determine where they are located on both ponies).  I haven’t had the chance to do that yet – I only know of one vet personally that has a surgical suite – I worked for her off/on & rented pasture from her for 7 years when we first moved back to NC with the ponies.  Her cost for an eye removal was significantly less than anyone else’s quotes, so we shall see.

The one, Toro, was a mature stallion that I sold as a two year old (and to the best of my memory, he did have 2 testicles – at least what I thought were 2 testicles but yes, I knew that one was smaller).  He was returned to us in late February 2016 from the family that had purchased him – they just couldn’t handle him. They hadn’t gotten him castrated and he’d become not just a “blithering idiot”, but a dangerous pony for their family since they didn’t have him separated from their other horses/ponies.  It was quite interesting when he came home – my farrier was even very surprised as she’d worked with him pretty extensively from birth to two years of age.  But now I have a little more understanding as to the “possible” problem – too much testosterone as well as incorrect handling/complete lack of training.  Trust me, his two full brothers were nothing like him BUT both were castrated before 2 years of age w/o a problem.  They are both great family ponies.  If it comes down thru the mare lines, then it ends with him – IF we then deal with any foals (to include mares, IMO) we may have next spring.  His sire had two testicles – though at the end of his years one was smaller – pretty sure they were the same size before his breeding accident.


HAVE any of you had this issue?  Did you have it in multiple horses/ponies w/i the same lines?  If so, did you feel it came from stallion/sire, the mare OR a combination of both?  Did you breed enough horses to figure it out?

It seems that no vets agree on this one (similar to the “sticky” stifle issue) – some feel it does carry in some stallion lines others feel it comes down from sire thru mare lines…

I haven’t looked it up yet with ASPC, but do know that other full size horse registries will revoke registration rights/papers and refuse to register foals out of stallions that are found to be cryptorchid.

In days of old, where I came from originally, those stallions were euthanized and so were many of their offspring.  For followers of the “mare” line theories, daughters of the crypt stallions were removed from breeding pools and/or were also euthanized.  The breeders I dealt with did this routinely – the horses were not kept and “lied” about…  They were removed from breeding pools.

I was told at the Vet School, by one of the instructor Vets, that these days – especially if the colt is a highly bred colt that is “going somewhere” or already doing well/promising on the track, that they get used – possibly extending this “defect” deeper into our breeding lines of current day horses.  I was also told that others have had their vets remove the one “showing” testicle and have passed the horse off as a gelding (he shouldn’t be fertile w/ a retained testicle, but would have plenty of testosterone) – which creates a whole slew of other problems IMHO.


What am I going to do now?  Well, we’ve been hit by a lot these last 4 years.  My hubby is at wit’s end when it comes to the ponies.  If he had his way – they’d all be gone tomorrow – no matter how they go.  I’m walking a rather fine line and a while back he did make jokes regarding divorce due to too many horses.  It’s no longer a joking matter, so to speak.  SIGH.   :'(

Personally, Toro is NOT stallion quality.  Before I sold him, I did have him set up for a castration.  It was understandably cancelled, w/ the understanding that he’d be castrated by another vet with his new owner.  I don’t really know if he was ever seen by another vet or not…  After he returned, he did end up covering some of our mares and I think that of those, a couple are in foal (maybe?).  I don’t feel that with today’s market in our area, Toro is going to have that surgery. Right now, we have other fees/bills we need to pay and a couple of procedures coming up ourselves.  He will be euthanized sometime in Oct/Nov.  Until then, he is in our roundpen with a mare that I believe he has settled in foal.  He’s happy and he has become quite manageable though he hasn’t returned to his previous, non-stallion personality and he is not a friendly pony at all.  He is very, very like his dam – Magic…  His 3 full siblings (2 colts and a filly) were like their sire.

Riddler ….  is a quandary. His registration paperwork hadn’t been sent in yet – required some different info and some extra fees (some of you may remember that I wasn’t sure who may have sired him…).  Now, I won’t need to send it in.  I’m glad I hadn’t sent in the tail hair for color testing (had it in an envelope – took it out Friday, will just be sending in Chylly’s now).  Riddler, himself, is a very “sweet” pony.  With a lot less handling than some of our other ponies, he’s a pretty unflappable, lovable boy.  He’s much less re-active then some – willing to leave all four hooves on the ground rather than take off – a trait I’m happy to have in ANY of our ponies and am really happy to have “it back”…  Some of ours were really not family friendly w/o a lot of intensive handling and schooling.  He is worth the surgery cost – even to ourselves for me as a driving pony and as a possible mount for our grandchildren – IF we can come up with the $$ to cover the surgery when we need to do it.  We’ve determined that we’ll wait another 6 months – in MAR/APR of 2017 when he’ll go back up to the Vet School to be checked and HOPEFULLY be able to get castrated.  I was told not to hold my breath, as they don’t believe he will drop them between now and then.

AND here is the rest of the problem.  This possibly affects our whole last 21 years of breeding Shetland ponies AND continuing on with it…

Echo, sired by WF Action Jackson, is Toro’s 1/2 brother.  He is the last son of AJ.  He DOES have two testicles (LOL – I CHECKED on Friday evening when i was feeding!) BUT one is quite a bit smaller than the other.  Makes me wonder, but at least I’m figuring that that means he is NOT cryptorchid AND should not be able to pass on cryptorchidism.  Right??   >:D

Riddler, we believe, is sired by Wizard (who has both testicles – though again, the right one IS smaller).  He is out of ‘Clipse.  If this comes down from the sire thru the mare line – than ‘Clipse is the one who is carrying the cryptorchid issue.  But here is the “kicker”…  Wizard is by the same stallion as ‘Clipse AND she was bred back to her sire to produce Cheri, another mare that we own.  One of the ponies that was previously “questioned” as to being a cryptorchid or not, is out of Cheri (by a stallion with totally different lines, thankfully).  But this makes me wonder about ALL 3 OF THESE PONIES – whom have been a major investment for us since 2012 when I purchased the first one AND all of whom are sired by a well known stallion of significance in both the Shetland and the Miniature world…


OK, I’m ready for my drink now and I have to go give Kechi her night feed.  Kechi and Jynx are doing FANTASTIC.  Wish I understood what happened on that “front”!!

About lppaintedponys

Husband and wife team raising shetland ponies, rescuing dogs/cats & becoming self sufficient.
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