Cleaning a Horse’s Sheath

Both stallions and geldings need their sheaths cleaned; owners need to keep their horses’ sheath clean to avoid discomfort, pain, and infection. If left without attention, the discomfort experienced can culminate in temporary lameness, and bad behaviour.

What is a horse’s sheath?

The sheath is a pocket of skin that protects the penis when the horse is not breeding or urinating. Problems arise from a build-up of smegma inside of this pocket, it is therefore removed during the cleaning process.

How often should a horse’s sheath be cleaned?

The frequency that you should undertake cleaning depends on a couple of factors. On the whole, geldings require cleaning at a younger age, and more frequently than stallions. Furthermore, although possible in stallions, it is more common for geldings to develop a “bean” – a hard amalgamation of smegma – under the sheath. A bean may also develop inside of the urethra, causing extreme pain, and interfering with the flow of urine.

Geldings require more frequent sheath cleaning compared to stallions as a result of their penis’ leaving the sheath less often, limiting it’s natural method of cleaning.

Generally, it is considered good practice to clean your horse’s sheath at least once a year.

How to clean a horse’s sheath

The task of cleaning a horse’s sheath isn’t complicated, but it will require patience. You’ll want latex gloves, too. Fundamentally, cleaning requires warm water, a mild grease-cutting solution, and paper towels.

Although uncommon, sensitive horses may require sedation before you can safely carry out the procedure.

To begin with, water is applied into the sheath using a hose pipe or needle-less syringe to aid debris removal. The procedure requires the horse to “drop” his penis. Therefore, if unwilling to do so it must be retrieved by gently pulling it from the sheath by the glans. Once extruded, gently clean the entire region.

It is common for the “bean” to develop in the uretheral diverticulum – a pocket adjacent to the opening of the uretha – so it is vital that this area is checked.

In my opinion, the best method to learn how to clean a sheath is by watching someone else in person, or alternately, through Youtube videos. Although I can’t guarantee the content, the following is particularly popular.

“How to clean a sheath” by Burwash Equine Services (Youtube)

Can I pay someone to clean my horse’s sheath?

If you’re unhappy cleaning your horse’s sheath yourself then you can turn to professional services. Typically these charge a nominal fee, and operate a schedule based on geographic zones. Although extreme caution should be taken, Equestrian Facebook groups are a great way to track down someone who will carry out the procedure, but dive deep into their reputation and ensure they’re insured before considering giving them your address.

Veterinarians will also perform this service, however, expect a higher fee.

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