For those of you who don’t know, a horses sheath is the pocket of skin that protects your horses private part. The reason why their sheaths need to be cleaned is due to the fact that a substance called smegma tends to build up in that area.
Smegma consists of dirt and dead skin cells. Some horses may also develop something called a “bean” which is also smegma but in a hard ball like texture. The bean can either be inside the sheath or near the urethra which can eventually cause interference with urine flow.
Geldings tend to need sheath cleaning more often that stallions as they extrude much less. Therefore, the smegma builds up faster in the skin folds.
Stallions would only need cleaning once a year. Whereas geldings would most likely need cleaning once or twice a year, depending on your horse and how often they relax.
For cleaning the sheath you will need:
- Trimmed fingernails! Yes your nails should be trimmed in order to avoid any sharpness or cuts
- Rubber Gloves
- Bucket with warm water
- Cotton/soft sponge
- Sheath cleaning product (I use Smeg-U-Later by Ecolicious)
Always remember, SAFETY FIRST! Make sure your horse is comfortable enough to let you clean him, otherwise, sedation could be an option.
Make sure you stand facing your horse’s back legs but not too close to be in the kick range zone. Approach your horse gently and calmly then start the following, as suggested by InfoVets:
1. Fill the bucket with warm (not hot) water.
2. Place a rubber glove on the right hand and then place a cotton sock over the right hand (a small rag or pieces of cotton can be used in place of the sock).
3. Soak the sock, rag, or cotton in the bucket of warm, soapy water. The soap not only cleans, but acts as a lubricant.
4. Begin by approaching the horse from the left side. With the left hand on the side or back of the horse, move towards the horse’s sheath with the right hand. MOVE SLOWLY and GENTLY, rubbing the horse as progress is made towards the sheath. Many horses will kick and resist this at first. Because a horse can easily reach its abdomen (belly) with a foot, it is important to keep your head high and watch out for your right hand.
5. Soak the opening of the sheath with the hose and plenty of warm water.
6. Anytime during this procedure it may be necessary to remove debris (smegma) that is encountered.
7. A thorough cleaning of all folds and surfaces of the sheath can now take place.
8. Remove the “bean” or smegma that is commonly found on the sides of the urethral opening in the urethral diverticulum
9. Once all the debris is removed, thoroughly rinse the sheath with warm, non-soapy water. Any remaining soap can cause irritation.
To read and view these steps in detail, you can visit the article at InfoVets- Sheath Cleaning.