I don't believe in cleaning them at all unless they have a problem that makes it necessary to do so. The horses body has it's own natural cleaning system and I believe that once you start mucking about with it you start a process whereby you upset the natural balance and end up having to clean it on a weekly basis. I've owned my gelding for 12 years and have never touched his sheath, he doesn't have any problems with it.
Geldings can have behaviour problems due to a really sore, mucky sheath. Everyone checks teeth and back and forgets to check to see if he is sore down below. It can sometimes be the root of a misbehaving gelding.
NEVER CLEANED HIS SHEATH?! I think you should clean your horses sheath accordingly to how much he is worked. If he is ridded a lot and is a dirty horse to begin with (stall habits, etc.) he should be cleaned once every one or two weeks. At a minnimum he should be cleaned once a month!
unfortunately for us owners, the natural sheath cleaning comes from breeding. Every time a stallion breeds a mare he gets a "cleaning". If you have a gelding or a non-breeding stalion he is not getting cleaned nature's way. A lot of people I know clean sheaths at the same time they have teeth floated, because the horse is sedated and it is easy to do. Unless your horse's sheath is exceptionally cruddy, every 6 months should be enough, once a year at the bare minimum. You can find articles online on how to do it...there was a link to one posted somewhere on this board before...if you search the posts you should be able to find it.
http://www.angelfire.com/az/clickryder/sheath.html is the link you want. It's 12 pages long - I've just scanned the archive because I am learning how to look after a gelding for the 1st time! What I want to know is - it's all very well doing a big horse but can someone tell me the easiest way to bend double to even see the under-bits of a 13.2hh.
[Edited by Cathy Reynolds on 4th Dec 2000 at 06:34 PM]
A geldings sheath should be cleaned at least once a year to every six months. Every two weeks is a big NO! This can cause extreme irritation to the sheath.
There are several different theories posted but they all are a little mixed up (most are valid).
Once you have cleaned your horses sheath it needs to be done annually. Once you start you must continue because you have caused a disruption in the sheaths natural cleaning abilities. Studies do suggest that, if you cannot do it annually, don't do it at all or get a vet to come out (it is really not that expensive).
You may think your gelding is fine without having it done but if you were to reach up inside his sheath, far enough, you will find little 'beans' that can be excrutiatingly painful. Failing to remove the beans can cause several different kinds of cancer and you may regret not doing it, later.
Yes, males are equipped with a natural cleaning ability in their sheath. But it was not designed to withstand being kept in a stall 12 hours a day or even 24 hours a day. It is not equipped to tolerate shavings finding their way up inside the sheath and it was not meant to withstand hours of training and sweat everyday!
There is a sheath cleaning product available that works great but is very expensive. The best thing to use, Ivory soap! It is cheap and recommended by any vet as it is very mild and will cause less irritation. Please remember, whatever you use, to thoroughly rinse to make sure all soap residue is gone!
My 23 yr old gelding came to me at 13 yrs old with a sheath problem. If it is not cleaned at least every two weeks it gums up with black yucky stuff. (sorry) I contacted the vet who said it might have something to do with his age. I clean him with KY lubricant first, then with Excalebar, and a good rinsing. I can tell when it needs cleaning because he gets crabby and when I'm brushing him he kicks at his belly as if he's bothered by flies. He used to not allow me to do this but I used the "Tellington Touch" on him and he behaves quite nicely about it now. I'd rather do this than put up with a mare's tantrums when she's in heat though.
Aha! This site is REALLY useful you know. I wonder if this is what is troubling Benny as he's suddenly started getting crabby when we brush his belly. Shall have a careful look - but we may need to tranquilise him first!