Some experts say sheath cleaning is unnecessary, and there’s no way a smegma bean could ever obstruct a horse’s urinary flow. Maybe they’re right. I hope so for the geldings out there who don’t get their sheaths cleaned on a regular basis.
But I have a Pony Club background, and in my day we cleaned sheaths.
Last week I noticed one of the geldings I ride was especially itchy between his hind legs. When I hosed him off after our ride, I made sure to wash him really well back there. He was still itchy, so I checked his sheath.
And here’s the bean I pulled out of him, broken into pieces, because that’s the only way I could get it loose. The penny is just there to give you an idea of the size–that came out of my purse, not this poor guy’s urethral fossa (that’s where beans grow).
This is by far the largest collection of smegma I’ve ever seen. It’s WAY bigger than a lima bean. How that gelding didn’t have a urinary obstruction is beyond me, but dang, that must have been uncomfortable!
We ask a lot of our horses, and I think in return they should feel like they’re being well taken care of. To me this includes trying to make them as comfortable as possible, so whether or not sheath cleaning is necessary, I still think it’s something gelding owners should do.
Oh, and for anybody wondering, I use coconut oil to clean sheaths because it loosens the smegma and allows it to kind of melt away gently, if that makes sense. I don’t use soap or anything harsh. Also, I focus primarily on removing the bean and don’t worry so much about the rest.