Sheath cleaning - Doing it yourself VS Getting the Vet to do it

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Sheath cleaning - Doing it yourself VS Getting the Vet to do it

This is a discussion on Sheath cleaning - Doing it yourself VS Getting the Vet to do it within the Horse Health forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category
  • How to clean horses sheath by julie goodnight
  • What is race horse sheath cleaning

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    09-18-2012, 12:39 PM
Sheath cleaning - Doing it yourself VS Getting the Vet to do it


I'm just wondering what your views are on sheath cleaning. Do you do it yourself or do you get the vet out to do it?

I have a quote from the vet which is 80 but includes sedation. No one I know that has done it themselves has ever had their horse sedated for it to be done.

Upon checking with the lady I got him from to see if he was sedated when he'd had it done in the past (who was temporarily looking after him for a few weeks until I got him) said she doesn't think he's had it done at all before (he's 9 years old, ex racehorse). The other ex racehorses I've had have been mares so I don't know if it's standard for gelded racehorses not to have their sheaths cleaned?

Can anyone shed some light on this and what their view would be on 'doing it yourself VS getting the vet to do it'. I have absolutely no issues with the cost, it's more about the sedation. Would he really need to be sedated if the vet were to do it or is that only something we can find out when we try it?


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    09-18-2012, 12:42 PM
I do it my self first I get the horse use to me being under there I like to do it because I do not sedate but if the horse is a problem then the vet gets a call
    09-18-2012, 12:47 PM
Thanks :) He had an injury close to that area a few weeks ago after he managed to get himself into a blackberry bush (the purple stains round his mouth were a dead giveaway) and caught himself on a thorn I'm assuming. It was on his belly close to that area and due to the batheing and cream rubbing in which ensued, he has got used to us being around that area, just not on/in the actual area.

I guess it's one of those things you just have to try and see how it goes and if it doesn't go well, try the next option (the vet) :)

    09-18-2012, 01:00 PM
Do it yourself

Use approach and retreat sessions every day, until he falls asleep and drops down for you. I always clean my gelding's sheaths when I groom them. I've done it with the almost 30 geldings I've owned over the years. I never spend much time, just clean some dead skin and one or two beans from inside the sheath, and my horses just got more and more relaxed with it.
Since yours has had an injury there it will take longer. Ironically none of mine ever had an injury near their sheaths. My Vet got cow-kicked by a client's horse UNDER SEDATION who had never had his sheath touched. These folks also had a mare that bit her in the face.
Honestly, your friends and family may get grossed out by this--my family always are =b --but it's as necessary and picking out the hooves.
You can desensitize your horses to practically anything if you work on their time table and retreat each time they relax a little bit to reinforce the good behavior. (Thank you, Julie Goodnight!)
This morning I threw some hay in the manger (my shelter juts up to my barn and it's loft), and I spilled some off of the catwalk. It fell on my gelding's back, so I used my wide broom to brush it off while he was eating. He didn't see the broom approaching, but I do it all of the time with him, and this morning he didn't even flinch. Something suddenly touching from above is much scarier to a horse than watching you groom him. =D
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    09-18-2012, 01:05 PM
I do it myself. Not worth the expense or hassle of getting a vet to do it. My horse is a prev and likes it.
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    09-18-2012, 04:30 PM
Thank you for all of your advice and information. I'm going to try the approach and retreat method and see how we go for a while.

Does anyone know if it is standard for racehorses to not have their sheaths cleaned or has anyone come across this before? Like Corporal said, it is necessary for geldings so I'm a bit surprised he hasn't had it done before (which makes me feel I need to get it done ASAP before we possibly run into problems due to build up etc).

Thanks again

    09-18-2012, 05:56 PM
With OTTB's expect them to know practically nothing but running. They are not tied, so they will break leads until they learn to tie. The Clinton Anderson or Julie Goodnight tie rings are very useful, or you can duplicate this with a very long rope and a vertical post, desensitizing. Perhaps you've fixed that problem. You really have to start an OTTB from scratch and retrain them to be a general riding horse, just as if they are 2yo's. Hope this helps.
    09-18-2012, 06:05 PM
Weird I got my OTTB off the track. He ties well, never broke a lead or tried. He isn't scared of anything, and is pretty well broke. Guess I just got lucky? Seriously he has never spooked and is great under saddle. He is not hot.
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    09-18-2012, 06:20 PM
Somebody had to have retrained him. How old is he?
    09-18-2012, 06:25 PM
Ugh. I have both done it myself and paid a vet to do it. If a horse is particularly "offended" by it, and no amount of training will make it to where you can adequetely clean it, and you can't get ace - you almost have to get a vet. It is something to be thankful for when a horse allow it w/o problems. I had one gelding that needed zero training. I had him since he hit the ground, and the first time was a breeze, and all thereafter. And, I also had a gelding since he was a yearling - who had the extreme opposite. Niether's attitude about it was due to a "previouse owner", in other words. Their reception of it is what it is.

The problem, IMO, there is just no room for error. For example, if you finally gain enough of their trust to do it, and have your hand in there and they change their mind about the whole trust thingy..and decide to whack your arm with their back leg they just caused a "self fullfilling prophecy" to come true, which they just knew - would! Now they are convinced, and you have to start over behind square one. No one knows what the sensitivity is, I can only guess it is high. Its just not worth it unless you know there will be no significant resistance at anytime during the cleaning effort.
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