May 152020

By Patty Wilber

Dr. Dixon came by on Thursday to give Spring shots, check and “float” (=file down) the horse’s teeth, and check the geldings….uh…undercarriage.

Is anything in there?

And I just realized I failed to get blood drawn for Coggins tests for Lucy and H that just might get to go out of state to a show or two later this summer….drat.

(In the meantime, don’t forget the Virtual Red Hot Ranch Horse Show.  I have not signed up yet–going to finish up my Ranch Pleasure classes for the virtual all breed NM Paint Club sponsored show and then move on to the Red Hot!)

Yep, I can give my own spring shots, but turns out if the Doc is coming anyway, his shot prices actually beat the cost of what I would spend at the feed store, soooo, go for it. Side note: Sombra, who was barely handable and was quite freaked out for his shots last year, was like an old pro this go round!

Now, back to our scheduled topic after all that wandering about.

Vaccines and tooth work we have covered here before, but I haven’t hit on sheath cleaning, that I recall.

Geldings tend to develop buildup of dead skin and secretions on the penis and it has long been standard practice to “clean the sheath”.  However,  this American Association of Equine Practioners article says cleaning is unnecessary and disrupts the normal bacterial community, sometimes leading to other issues.  Since I am interested in bacteria, in part because I teach microbiology, I found the AAEP article and the science from this study compelling.

Thus, I am not a big proponent of major cleaning, but I was still worrying about the smegma “beans”  that can build up in the blind pocket in the penis head.  Large beans can cause discomfort when urinating, I thought. The AAEP article says that is not actually an issue…well…unless the bean grows to be 300 grams in size like in this article!

I had the beans removed.

Some geldings don’t mind being “handled”, as it were, but some really don’t care for it, so it is easiest to do when they are already sedated (as they were for tooth work)!

Cometa had a small bean and Leo had none. Sombra and H didn’t need tooth work, so we left their underparts alone.

Cometa tends to build up a lot a goop in there as well, so here is lovely picture.

And just in case you weren’t grossed out enough already, here is a short video on bean removal.  I bet the bean in the video is under 20g.  Imagine the 300g monster!

Happy spring cleaning, or not!






  5 Responses to “Spring Cleaning…for Geldings”

  1. Oh, GOOD. Just the conversation I’m interested in. Because I’ve always been in your camp–just kind of leave things alone, see what happens, check the bean (and never had anything but a token). I did exterior cleanings on Duncan now and then to keep track of melanomas and let the rest deal with itself–but he had a pretty active and expressive Mr. Happy, probably because of how late he was gelded.

    And then there’s Takota. He’s terribly, er, INACTIVE down there and at the same time his sheath is really, er, wrinkly inside. He has the worse, nastiest, dirtiest personal parts that I’ve ever seen. I didn’t mess with him too much when he first got here, for obvious reasons, but when I did finally take the dive, I was…wow. (But weirdly, he rarely has a bean.) I still never clean the penis exterior, because the thing never makes an appearance.

    The problem with not cleaning is that I was initially inspired to take the dive because he was kicking at his belly, and really seemed uncomfortable. And boy, does he SMELL. That’s when I discovered the geological layers of concrete smegma. So I started looking for ways to help him stay clean–regular moisturizers and the like. He seemed more comfortable, but ugh, even more smell. Just yesterday I gave him (only his second) actual with-water cleaning, but honestly, I’m at a loss!

    He does enjoy the cleaning, at least. I won’t even tell you how much he enjoys it because he wouldn’t want you to know.

    Maybe I just need to contribute the the environmental overload by using an oiled baby wipe on him a couple times a week. Blah.

    Aren’t you glad you started this?

    • There was an article I found that mentioned trying to help get a different set of bacteria growing down there, but then it went into how the body work specialist found her horse had mental trauma from being gelded (the horse told her) and it got a little too out there for me. But according the linked article it is fine to just leave it all alone!

      • I didn’t buy the too-smooth assurances of the first article. No sourcing, just a big “you should believe me.” (He might have been 100% on the nose, but his breezy assurances make me want back up to it all.) The study was really interesting!

        But Takota is like the horse one of your FB friends mentioned–even though I basically WAS leaving him alone when he got here, he ends up stomping his back feet, kicking at his belly, and annoyance-twitching his tail if I don’t keep the front half of his sheath clean. Surely there must be a happy medium somewhere!

        (Lotions and mineral oil aren’t it for a horse this dirty. Smelly! Yucky!)

    • PS Hmm, the first article comes across as a bunch of opinions (other than the conception rate) without any citations or allusions to studies to back them up.

      The second was interesting, and I would HAPPILY leave Takota’s sheath alone, but it does seem like the dry nature of his sheath build-up is irritating to him.


  2. As an eye-witness of Cometa’s “procedure” yesterday, the amount of debris removed was pretty astounding (read “gross”)! The glove pic is nothing!

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