Essential Guide to Sheath Cleaning for Horses: Ensuring Equine Health and Hygiene

Sheath Cleaning for Horses

Last Updated on October 31, 2023 by Fumipets

Essential Guide to Sheath Cleaning for Horses: Ensuring Equine Health and Hygiene


Sheath cleaning is an essential aspect of horse care, particularly for geldings and stallions. The sheath is a sensitive and often overlooked area that can accumulate dirt, smegma, and other debris.

Regular cleaning not only promotes horse hygiene but also prevents discomfort and potential health issues. Proper sheath cleaning involves gently removing buildup, being cautious to avoid injury or trauma to the horse. Owners and caregivers should be educated on the process to ensure the horse’s well-being.

Sheath Cleaning for Horses

If you have a male horse, you may sometimes need to wipe its sheath. Reaching your hand into your horse’s genitals and removing the accumulation is a pretty invasive procedure. This may be an unpleasant and daunting experience for beginners. But you’ll need to roll up your sleeves and get dirty if your horse needs its sheath cleaned. Before you do, let’s look more closely at how to clean your horse’s sheath and the situations in which doing so is acceptable or required.

Important Terminology

There are a few phrases we need to establish so we may more readily understand the subject before we get into the specifics of cleaning a horse sheath.


A male horse produces smegma to provide lubrication and protection for their penis. Some horses generate wet smegma, while others have dry, flaky smegma. Smegma production varies greatly from person to person as well.


The dip at the end of the horse’s penis is where smegma may build up. The urethral fossa is a depression in the body where smegma may accumulate and create what is known as a bean.

Is Sheath Cleaning Necessary?

Sheath cleaning was formerly thought to be essential for every male horse. The majority of horse owners cleaned their horse’s sheath a few times a year, however others did it much more often. The true query is: Does your horse’s sheath need cleaning?

In the wild, stallions are left to care for themselves and maintain excellent health without someone to clean their sheath. Ironically, conception rates in wild stallions are approximately 85%, 15% higher than those in domestic stallions on average.

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Many people think that smegma might accumulate and create a variety of issues for your horse. A huge bean is also said to have the ability to obstruct a horse’s urethra, making it difficult for them to pee. The American Association of Equine Practitioners, however, contends that this is untrue.

Your horse’s penis has a smegma for defense. In addition to lubricating the penis, it offers a layer of protection. The natural defense and lubrication of your horse are lost when the smegma is removed.

For healthy male horses, sheath cleaning is often not required. It may even be detrimental.

When Should You Clean Your Horse’s Sheath?

Even yet, there are times when it is important for your horse to have their sheath cleaned. You may need to wipe the sheath if your horse has a cut or scrape around its genitalia in order to maintain the region hygienic. This technique is also advised when a malignant tumor has been surgically removed. Cleaning your horse’s sheath may also be necessary if it has equine herpesvirus or squamous cell cancer.


If you’ve decided that your horse’s sheath needs to be cleaned, you’ll need to acquire a few things before you start.


You may use a variety of soaps, but you should choose one that is moderate and gentle. Excalibur soap, Ivory soap, and betadine soap are some of the better choices. As an alternative, you may just use K-Y Jelly, which requires no rinsing. To avoid aggravating your horse as it dries, you must carefully rinse any soap residue left behind.

Latex Gloves

You’ll need some protection since you’ll be inserting your hand into your horse’s genitalia for this. Smegma from horses has a strong, unpleasant smell that clings to your skin. If you do this without gloves, you should be prepared for your hands to be covered with an unpleasant smell for at least a few days.

Hose or Spray Bottle

Some individuals use a hose to rinse their dishes, but this often results in too much pressure. A spray bottle with water in it is preferable. You won’t need to rinse the area after using K-Y jelly instead of soap. To rinse things out after using soap, make sure you have a lot of clean water on hand.


You must have your horse’s penis extracted in order to clean its sheath. The two primary approaches are as follows.

Grab the penis with your hand by reaching within the sheath. To induce it to fall, gently pull it out or touch it between the sheath and penis.

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You may also tranquilize your horse as an option. Your horse will be calmed by the tranquilizers, and the penis will probably start to extract naturally. It is advised that you carry out this procedure under the guidance of a veterinarian exclusively.

Some Basic Tips

You’re going to be guided through the procedures for cleaning your horse’s sheath. But before that, there are a few crucial pointers we can provide that can help you and your horse through the process more easily.

Trim Your Nails

To avoid accidently cutting, scratching, or scraping your horse, take a few minutes to clip your nails before you begin. Keep in mind that your hand will be in the highly sensitive genitalia of your horse.

Be Gentle

Never use excessive force while handling your horse’s genitalia. If you do, you risk hurting yourself, your horse, or both.

Take Your Time

Be patient; don’t hurry. Take your time and make sure that everything is done carefully and correctly.

How to Clean a Horse’s Sheath

It’s time to get started after you’ve decided that your horse’s sheath really needs cleaning and all of the required materials have been obtained. To learn how to clean your horse’s sheath, continue reading.

Checking around quickly to make sure no one is looking is a smart idea. While what you’re doing may be essential and perhaps beneficial for your horse, passersby and chance onlookers are unlikely to comprehend why you seem to be playing with your horse’s genitalia. It’s essential to make sure no one is around before you begin since it doesn’t look nice.

Use a moist sponge, a spray bottle, or a hose to wet your horse’s genitalia. However, avoid shocking your horse with a spray of cold water to the balls—you never know how it could respond!

It’s ideal to stand facing your horse’s head, pressing your hip and shoulder firmly on its leg and hip to prevent being kicked. You’ll have easy access to the animal’s genitalia from this stance, but you’ll also be well aware of any potential kicks. The best part is that it can only push you from here; it can’t kick you.

To avoid shocking your horse, move your hand slowly approaching its genitalia. Once there, generously lubricate the whole region with your preferred soap. You’ll see that the sheath contains the penis. You’ll need to insert your hand inside to bring it out.

As you continue to press in, you’ll feel a tiny space expand into a much bigger chamber. Always be really gentle. You’ll need to use your fingers to maneuver around the horse’s penis from this point on. Smegma may be started to be removed from here. If the penis on your horse won’t drop, this may be the only smegma you can find. You may use as much water and soap as you need to assist.

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It’s time to start searching for the bean after you believe that everything has been sufficiently cleansed. Inside the urethra, there is a kidney-shaped chunk of dried smegma. Though not all horses will, the majority of them will. Start your exploration by gently inserting your finger into the urethral opening. You’ll detect a little lump, about the size of a stone or pea, less than an inch from the urethral entrance. Take your time and carefully coax the bean out to avoid hurting it or damaging it. It could be a slow process that advances in little steps. Squeezing the end of the penis will push the bean out once it is at the very tip of the penis.

The difficult task is over at this stage. You must now thoroughly cleanse everything. Rinsing is not required if K-Y Jelly was all you used. This process is essential for people who have used soap. Make sure any residue is cleaned completely but delicately using a spray bottle, hose, or sponge. In addition to watering the outside of the sheath, you should also send some up within it.

Hopefully, you avoided getting any smegma on your skin by wearing some strong gloves. If not, you’ll need to attempt to get rid of the stench yourself with a powerful cleanser and some elbow grease. The work is over after you’ve finished cleaning up and the horse is calm and tidy.


It is not advised to routinely clean your horse’s sheath. Despite the fact that many people used to do this routinely, doing so may be harmful to your horse since the smegma you’re eliminating has a protective function. Even so, you now know how to clean your horse’s sheath safely and effectively so that neither you nor the horse will be wounded in the process.

Q&A About Sheath Cleaning for Horses:



Why is sheath cleaning important for horses?

Sheath cleaning is crucial for maintaining horse hygiene, preventing discomfort, and avoiding potential health issues caused by the buildup of dirt and smegma.


How often should a horse’s sheath be cleaned?

The frequency of sheath cleaning depends on the individual horse. Some may require cleaning every few months, while others may need it less often. Regular checks can help determine when cleaning is necessary.


What is smegma, and why does it accumulate in the sheath?

Smegma is a waxy substance that can accumulate in the sheath. It is a natural secretion and a mixture of dead skin cells, oils, and other materials. It accumulates because horses cannot clean this area themselves.


What precautions should be taken when cleaning a horse’s sheath?

Sheath cleaning should be done gently and with caution to avoid causing injury or trauma to the horse. Using a suitable lubricant and ensuring a calm environment is essential.


Can sheath cleaning be done by horse owners, or should it be performed by a veterinarian?

Sheath cleaning can be done by horse owners with the appropriate knowledge and care. However, if the owner is uncomfortable or encounters any issues during the process, consulting a veterinarian is advisable.




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