The penis of a male horse is encased in a sheath or prepuce, unless it is extended for urination or during sexual arousal. Male horses should have their sheaths cleaned at least twice a year to remove the Smegma . Smegma is a secretion which is produced in the sheath lining. It is caused from a combination of dirt, dead skins cells and fatty secretions that build up in the folds of the sheath. A gelding’s sheath may become sore and swollen when it becomes infected. If infection occurs the sheath will ooze pus and fluid and the penis will not fully retract and show sign of inflammation.
The best way to avoid infection is much easier than treatment. Cleaning the sheath and penis at least twice a year should ensure you that you will have no issues and keep you male horse from having issues. You can clean this area yourself but if you prefer you can have a skilled person that works at your vets office do the deed.
Most male horses do not like to have someone clean them and if you have a young horse it is not advised to do it alone just in case you get kicked. You can have one person hold the horse or tie him up very short to keep him still, that is the best method. Always stand close enough to the horses’ side, forward near the flank, in case he decides to kick you. With older horses you may find that he doesn’t mind the cleaning it will just depend on your horses’ temperament. If you do it on a regular basis then your male horse will be accustom to it and not kick at you or try and bite you. Some will even let the penis down completely so you can clean it which makes the job much easier. It is best to have your veterinarian or his assistant show you the proper way to clean it.
Start by using warm water and an antibacterial soap. It is highly recommended to wear rubber gloves and a clean tube sock; you should be able to gently wash the sheath inside and out. This will help you remove chunks of smegma this way. Reach into the sheath and pull the penis down and out by the head, extending it as far as possible. If he offers to drop the penis that will help you out very much but some males don’t always cooperate. When you are ready to rinse the sheath using a hose with warm water and low pressure, take the hose and insert 2 to 3 inches into the sheath. Most horses will quickly get use to the sensation of the water and after you do it a few times they will actually not fight you and rather enjoy it.
Finally, check the penis for a “bean”. Move back the skin at the end of the penis until you find a small pouch of skin. If there is a bean it should roll out quite easily. If he is not use to you doing this beware he might kick at you. The better you clean it the less chance he will have of getting an infection in the future.