Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: St.Louis, Missouri
Posts: 550• Horses: 1
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By Gary D. Kirchmeier
A male horse needs to have his sheath and penis cleaned periodically. It is an unsavory, but necessary task. Most breeding stallions are probably washed often enough during breeding season, but they might not get proper attention during the rest of the year. Stallions who are pasture-bred could easily get ignored, but geldings are the ones who most often have problems. An accumulation of dirt and excretions called smegma builds up in the area, and must be removed. Mares experience the same affliction between their udders.
One of the first signs you may see, if your horse has dirty genitals, is tail rubbing. There can be several reasons for tail rubbing, but if you worm regularly, and are not plagued by parasites such as lice, a dirty udder or sheath should be high on your list of suspects. Routine genital cleaning is best; then you won't have to wait for these symptoms. How often should you check your horse? There is no exact answer to that question. It varies from horse to horse, and each area of the country is probably different. In Arizona and neighboring parts of the Southwest, horses seem to get filthy quickly. If a cross-section of horse owners were asked, there would be quite an array of answers. Once every 2 or 3 months is a suggested routine. Many gelding owners, who think they cleanse their horses adequately, are overlooking an important part of the chore. There is a pouch in the end of the penis that sometimes causes serious trouble because people simply do not know about it. It needs to be cleared out each time the sheath and penis are washed. Usually the pouch will have one or more small lumps or beans of smegma in it. They are frequently shaped like a pinto bean and are about the same size. Sometimes, they are as large as walnuts. If the pouch has been neglected for long, you might find things that will really surprise you.
Recently, I was asked to check a gelding for a woman, and had one of those surprises. The woman grooms her horse daily and bathes the sheath area frequently, but didn't know she needed to check inside the penis.
The gelding, extremely sore in the hindquarters, and sensitive to the touch, was obviously distressed. It was a weekend out at a ranch and no veterinarian was available. The ranch foreman and the horse's owner suspected he had a problem urinating, and they asked me to inspect him. It didn't take long to find his problem.
A hard brittle hook of matter the size of your little finger was sticking out the end of the penis. The area was extremely sensitive, and the horse was certainly not happy, but eventually all the foreign matter was removed. After the debris has been there so long, it seems to harden. In this case, the material, white and almost like pearl in appearance, broke and was removed in three large pieces. The volume was roughly equivalent to a heaping tablespoon. Sadly, this is not the largest deposit I have ever removed from a horse. This particular horse had been in lots of misery; but by morning, he was fine.
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