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Handling a Cryptorchid Stallion?

Hello! I’ve had my beautiful “gelding” for a year now. He came to me underweight and muscled, and we spent the first few months just getting weight on him. This is my first spring with him being fit and healthy. Normally he’s been (somewhat) of a sweetheart, but a few weeks ago he started to act aggressively towards our stall cleaners, and he bit one of them quite badly. I decided to do a lameness exam with flexions, and then scoped him for ulcers. Grade 2 lesions were found and he started Gastrogard. Hoped that his behaviour would get better, instead it has gotten increasingly worse. I now believe he is actually a cryptorchid stallion (and have contacted my vet about this). He challenges my space, lunges at me, strikes out at me etc when I am in his walkout to muck. I noticed today that he is starting to hang out in his paddock while…”hanging out”. We do have mares on the property that are in season, though he is on a side of the barn that happens to be all geldings. While I have been riding for many years, he is my first horse and way more than I bargained for. We had great summer, fall and winter riding seasons, but I’m in way over my head with this behaviour.

Any advice for dealing with cryptorchid stallions? I put his halter on while mucking his paddock so that I can grab his lead and make him back up when he challenges my space, but there is just such a lack of respect and boundary that continues despite that. I’m in over my head and don’t know what to do :frowning:

Handling a stallion is not much different to handling a gelding or a mare. It does mean that you have to be 100% with your training.

You say this is your first horse and he came undernourished and you have fed him up.

From experience and watching people with their first horse I will say this.

He has probably been overfed and the ‘feed has gone to his head’. Or another way of saying this is, he is ‘overfed and underworked’. This means the balance of what you are feeding him and the work he is doing is out of whack and can still happen if he is being ridden 7 days a week. If he is in the whelm of over fed and underworked it will take him as long to get out of it as it took him to get into it and you don’t know the second of the day on which week that happened. In other words taking him off all grain will not work overnight.

The other thing that has happened is that every time you have interacted with him since he arrived, you have been training him. Even when he was quiet and undernourished. You have missed seeing what habits were forming and have not noticed the signs that an experienced horse trainer would have nipped in the bud immediately.

The horse you have now is the horse you have trained.

As with any new horse owner, I tell them that every single time you interact with the horse the horse is either a little bit better or a little bit worse afterwards.

Starting on a Monday if the horse is a little bit better, then by next Monday the horse you start with is a lot better than the horse you had last Monday.

If however the horse is a little bit worse each time you interact with it, then the horse next Monday is a lot worse than the horse you had last Monday. If this is happening get professional help fast, as it does not take long for things to go really pear shaped.

This means that if he is challenging your space, lunging and striking at you this Monday. It will he worse next Monday.

Do not think of him as a chriptorchoid stallion unless a vet tells you he is.

My first suggestion is to take him off all grain, give him grassy hay only and put a halter on him every time you interact with him.


Hanging out means nothing…a vast majority of geldings do this when relaxed or standing around.

You need to have the vet test his hormones and actually do a diagnosis.

I think @SuzieQNutter’s post is spot on.


This is something easily confirmed with a blood test; so rather than worry about how to handle a cryptorchid, just get him tested.

But as said above - stallions are still handled safely by good handlers. They are ridden in competition too.

Being a stallion is not an excuse to be an asshat. Training is essential - and it sounds like you need help whether he is or is not still intact. Either way you have an asshat on your hands, or something has changed - he is in pain and/or he is unhappy…why?

What has changed, other than the ulcer diagnosis? How long has he been on ulcer meds, and are you giving the full dosage as prescribed? What is his diet? What is his riding/training schedule?


If he is truly a cryptorchid, his behaviour may well be worse than a normal stallion. And it’s not related to his training. They are often more aggressive, more “angry” than stallions, and thus more dangerous to deal with. If this is the situation, you are looking at abdominal surgery to go searching for what was left behind, either another testicle or other associated hormone producing structures. It’s not inexpensive to do surgery like this, it’s major surgery with associated risk. Good luck. Get the blood test.

And I’m going to edit this to say that handling, training and riding a stallion actually IS different from geldings and mares. Because he’s a stallion, and has more on his mind at times than mares and geldings do. And a trainer can’t forget that. Which is why stallions are not recommended for green owners, trainers or riders.


Hi all! Thank you for the replies!

Yes, I am going to talk to my vet to have his testosterone levels checked. I am simply going off what my trainer was thinking as well. His change in attitude was like a light switch. He was great to handle, lunge, and just generally be around on a Friday; on the Saturday (March 20, Spring Equinox?) he lunged at, and bit, one of the stablehand’s, who was mucking his paddock, badly.

Up until our cold snap middle of February, he was lunged or ridden 4x a week. He’s been a sweetheart to handle and ride! He was up for sale, so was put back into a regular riding schedule with no issues. I took his ad down because of the biting incident - our community is very small and word got around, and he was branded dangerous. But I am still trying to sell him; as a first horse, this attitude is more than I bargained for, despite my experience around horses, and riding, starting when I was young.

For feed he is on local hay (free choice), soaked alfalfa/Timothy cubes and a vitamin pellet. That’s it.

How old is this horse?

I would definitely have the vet out first for not only testosterone levels, but a full wellness/lameness check. Change in attitude like a light switch is not something I would think common in stallions - cryptorchid or not, unless some other physical issue is involved. If he is crypt, there could be other physical issues involved - I’ve never owned a stallion or cryptorchid horse, but cryptorchid dogs are not uncommon. It is recommended that they are neutered fully because the retained testicle is more likely to have problems like torsion events, which would be painful and might result in behavioral issues.


I’ve owned and worked with stallions most of my life.
While I suppose cryptorchidism is a possibility, I rather suspect that there is some other explanation for this change in behavior.


He’s rising 10. He’s always been a grump…not an “in your pocket” type guy, but his aggressiveness started as the spring turned.

I’ve had my vet out to do a neuro and lameness exam. Nothing showed on the neuro, nothing major on the lameness. He was diagnosed with arthritis well before I got him, though his previous owner never did anything for him, and wouldn’t release his records…so I only just found out about his arthritis when I got his work up done a couple weeks ago. As he warms up, he works out of his “stickiness” and turns into the most beautiful mover.

A coming 10yo horse that suddenly started acting up does not scream “cryptorchid” to me. The fact that his behavior changed seemingly overnight also does not suggest cryptorchid. I’m w/ Ghazzu: it’s certainly possible but given the details seems rather unlikely.

You say he’s “always been a grump” - what does this mean? Not being a social butterfly doesn’t automatically equal “grump”, and “grump” in and of itself tends to have a root cause instead of being the cause itself.


Agreed, I was thinking this horse was 3 or 4, and combined with a neglected past is just coming into maturity.

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I wonder if he has major pain somewhere? You said you upped his training and with the arthritis it might have caused his jekyll/ hyde attitude.

I also wonder about the barn workers and how they treat him on a day to day basis. Not accusing anyone but if he was getting in their space and they felt threatened, well…

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What management changes did you make after he was diagnosed with ulcers?

Thats ok, it take a really true horse person to admit they need help.

It’s not a respect issue because horses can’t “respect” and “disrespect” like humans can. It’s an anthropomorphism that is dated but not accurate. He’s doing what he feels he needs to do. It’s got nothing to do with “respect”.

I think first, you need a really really knowledgeable trainer to help you. This is just too serious of behavior.

IME, with horses that act like this, people usually think it’s a “dominance” issue but I’ve never found that to be true. I’ve found it’s actually an insecurity issue. Deep down, for whatever reason, he feels threatened and that he needs to defend himself. Then when he displays the aggressive behavior, the handler or whoever see it as dominance” so they try to smack the horse, or whatever to act more dominant, then it starts a cycle of each party being aggressive due to what, to them, is self defense but to the other party is aggression. A really good trainer will work with the horse and get to the bottom of why this horse feels he needs to act this way. Until then, no stall cleaners, no staff, nobody interacts with the animal.

I’d say the same thing if this was a gelding, stallion, mare, or Shetland pony.


My neighbors have a cryptorchid stallion. He was a sweet quiet thing as a 2 year old. Timid, gentle. She rode him in my yard, would ride down the street bareback in a halter. After age 3, he turned into a full raging stallion. She could not get him past my property to ride down the street because I have mares! She stopped riding him.

He jumped the fence a couple times- attacked the other neighbors geldings after jumping in with them. He came to my property at 4 am and was running the fence. I caught him and put him in my barn where he reared and threw a tantrum. Couldn’t get a hold of my neighbor to pick him up. Didn’t want to climb the locked gate and go the their yard in the dark. They came around 7 am to get him.

I guess they finally fixed the fence because I haven’t seen him in years. Or he died. They weren’t known for taking good care of their animals. I had even offered to trailer him to the vet for gelding, but they didn’t take my offer.

I’m not certain what you describe is cryptochid behavior, but worth testing, yes.

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I highly doubt this horse is actually cryptorchid more likely ulcers or other pain issue.


By coincidence I had started re-reading “Schooling for Young Riders” by John Richard Young.

He, a professional horseman, got his family a 2 yr. old Arab/Welsh stallion colt whose totally inexperienced owners had let him get into BAD habits, biting and rearing among others.

He goes into detail how he got this colt safe for his pre-teen daughters to ride and train.

This book was a godsend for me when I was training my weanling/yearling colts as I did not know anything about training young colts OR how to handle stallion type behavior. My colts ended up behaving, they were polite, and they considered me to be their boss using humane methods (no unnecessary violence, and violence is rarely necessary.)

It is only available used. Try Ebay.

A wonderful book, as his other --“The Schooling of the Western Horse”.
(Hint: it’s not only about “Western” horses…)

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We have a nervous, stall-walker type OTTB at our barn. He was restarted and shown lightly by a young, experienced trainer and sold to a boarder at the age of 6. He’s a very nice mover, but he’s also athletic and insecure. In the 2 years the boarder (experienced jumper rider who’s only owned made horses has had him), the OTTB has learned to pull back, shake his head/rear when lead, kick out purposefully at handler on the lungeline and act up when mounting. That was not the case his first 2 years at our barn. I’ve had multiple lessons on the ground and undersaddle with the current owner. She is intimidated by the horse, gives him treats to induce correct behavior instead of creating her personal space and asserting herself outside of lessons, etc. He is definitely NOT cryptorchid. She wants someone else to fix her gelding’s behavior. Although I’ve told her the only way to have a safe partnership is to work through this with pro help, I have a feeling it’s not going to end well. I’ll no longer work with him when she can’t ride because he is becoming downright dangerous and knows his own strength because she backs off when he acts up.


@Lusoluv I witnessed the same with a mare - small (~15h) TB.
Trainer convinced owner to sell the little App she had & loved to get this More Approved for the Hunters mare.
Mare would come in off the longe, teeth bared, ears pinned to bully the owner.
Final straw only happened when the mare fell on her while ridden, breaking her (rider’s) leg.

So sex was not a factor here, but like you described, HO had no clue how to discipline for her own safety.

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