Category Archives: Handy Tips

TIME TO CLEAN UDDERS, SHEATHS … dirty job but somebody has to do it!

Winter is coming to a close and quite possibly, your mare has collected some mud in her udder. She might be rubbing at her tail dock…

Now… there are several reasons why a horse could rub at their tail dock.  Click here if you’d like to look into that further.

But one sure fire reason that they rub at their tail docks is due to itchy udders and sheaths.  Those areas are almost impossible for a horse to reach on his own, so he/she does the best they can by rubbing the tail dock.


This is a pic of MT's tail from long ago - telling me that I have neglected my udder cleaning duty.

This is a pic of MT’s tail  (from long ago) – telling me that I have neglected my udder cleaning duty.


A while back, I found myself using every kind of sweet itch formula, dandruff formula, wormer, lice spotter… you name it, I was trying it – in an effort to figure out why my mares were rubbing out their tails.

Back then, my Old Tymey vet told me to “clean the udders”.

??  Wha?  Udders?  Why?

He told me that mares get gunk and perspiration up between their udders – especially in the Summer when they are playing outside and it is hot and dusty.


So, I checked up in there (be careful if you have a maiden mare or if you mare is not familiar with you checking her udders), and sure enough, MT was full of cakey-gunky black stuff between her udders.

As soon as I cleaned it out, she quit rubbing.

Easy fix.




Cleaning an udder isn’t as easy as it may sound.  It depends, really.  On a mare who is familiar with having her udders handled, it is easy.

On a maiden mare, not so much…  So, be gentle, easy and careful.  I’m not a horse trainer but I do know to for sure keep your body out of the kicking range – and go very slowly and gently.  No tickling.

As far as a gelding and his sheath, same deal.  That area can get full of ‘beans’ which are crusty pellets that sit in there, becoming huge and are irritating.  You might see your gelding kick at his stomach when there are no flies… or even when there are flies… so do have his sheath cleaned regularly.

I don’t personally clean any of my geldings’ sheaths now that Aladdin has passed.  He let me do it but he was the only one.  The rest are not comfortable with it so… whenever I have their teeth done, I have the vet also do their sheaths.

*Many trainers teach a baby colt to ‘drop’ for cleaning.

Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 11.01.22 AM

This is not me smiling happily under a gelding while sheath cleaning. I found this pic from a sheath cleaning clinic Google search.


Previous to today,  I used only warm water, mild soap and a soft cloth to clean udders.  This was fine; until I found something much better!

Today, I tried Equi-Spa Udder/Sheath cleaner.  Now, I know what you are thinking.  Why not use something you already have around the house.  Why buy a specialty item?  Yup.  That’s what I thought, too.

The reason why is because it works  so. much. better.  Totally a breeze.  Liquidates and soothes.

I brought out my bucket of warm water, my soft cloth and my Equi-Spa udder cleaner.   (They also make THE BALM that I love!)  Anyway, I was all prepared to not notice any difference between homemade cleaners and this Equi-Spa Sheath and Udder Cleaner. I dunked my cloth in the warm water and squeezed out the excess (hate it when water runs down my arm) and squirted on the cleaner.  The fragrance was clean and flowery.

I started with Tess because she is the easiest.  And, a strange thing happened.  It glided!  I don’t know how to otherwise describe it, but the cloth glided so smoothly against her udders that I thought I was using oil.  And, the yuk broke up so quickly and smoothly that it made me realize my usual homemade formula wasn’t so good…  I swear it made the whole area shiny and squeaky-clean in a matter of moments!  (The bottle says to leave it on for 10-15 mins for hardened debris – but I think that is more for sheaths.  Dunno.  It came right off for me.)

And, the best part, I didn’t have to worry about rinsing the cleaner off.  What I mean to say is that you need to rinse to get rid of the yuk up there, but you don’t have to make sure all the cleaner is gone.  With soap, you do.  I used to get her legs wet, my pants wet, my arms soaked as I rinsed the beejeezus out of that area to make sure her skin wouldn’t be irritated.  But this stuff is E-A-S-Y.

This is my hand holding my Udder (and sheath) Cleaner.


OMGosh!  The bottle says to “Reapply as needed to protect and moisturize the area”.  Wow.

So, I’m sold.


I emailed Equi-Spa and asked what ingredients made this cleaner work so well.  Here is the reply:

The Udder cleaner is based in  vegetable glycerin and organic Aloe vera gel.  The glycerin is slick, hydrophilic and helps soften and loosen smegma…easy rinse and pulls the dissolving “dirt and debris” with it.  It also contains a small amount of witch hazel along with the Aloe is very very soothing and helps leave a healthy “environment” .  Horses like it because it feels soothing and yes a bit cooling to them from the Aloe.   The cool smell is Tea Tree…there is no camphor or menthol to make it feel “icy” to the horse.  It is very clinical smelling.  There is also other essential oils that are beneficial for discouraging yeast and bacteria growth  but are in very small amounts as to not cause any irritation…in fact just the opposite.  I also use it to detangle tails, (it dries fluffy)  great for cleaning out dogs ears, and for applying over scratches to soften the scabs and accelerates the healing process.

IF YOU WANT SOME, TOO (no affiliation)

If you would like some EquiSpa Sheath and Udder Cleaner, here is the link.  It is only $17 and it goes a long way.



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IF YOU ARE AWARE OF WHAT COULD HAPPEN… USUALLY IT WON’T. Unless you become complacent (lazy?), Like I DID!

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   Every Superbowl Sunday, I am reminded of my Superbowl Sunday MAJOR FUMBLE 7 years ago…  I was just so comfortable with my regular routine that I didn’t notice I had the wrong end of the lead rope in my hand before I released her…  She didn’t do anything wrong.  I did.


How did you spend your Super Bowl Sunday?

This is how I spent mine…

This was last night, after surgery.


I was being very negligent and foolish.  I made a series of ridiculous decisions based on my never having any trouble like this before.  Basically, I had become complacent, lazy and over-confident when working around my horses during every day chores.


I was moving horses from one pasture to another.  Easy.  Simple.  I usually just either open a gate and they go by themselves, or I put a rope halter around a neck and lead them to where I want him/her to go.  Easy.  No pressure, no issues…  I’d done it a million times.

Of course, for new horses or young horses I put the halter ON before I move them.  And, if it was a a windy or stormy day, I’d probably be more cautious with all my horses and secure the halter before trying to move them.  Makes sense.  Seems like I’m being reasonable.

So why did something happen today?  I was moving the calm and trained BG, it was a sunny day and no different than any other day.  I did what I always do when I move her:

I grabbed the nearest leadrope which happened to be a training leadrope with a training halter attached to the huge, brass safety clip (mistake #1), I didn’t unattach the rope halter attached to it (mistake #2), I didn’t bother to look which end I was using (mistake #3), I just swung the rope willy-nilly over her neck (mistake #4), I didn’t think about the fact that this was a 22′ leadrope (mistake #5) and I didn’t consider that something might spook her just as I was about to release the loop around her neck (mistake #6).

You probably recognize the style of leadrope…heavy and long.


Well, I remember grabbing the nearest lead rope, swinging it over her neck.  I remember thinking that I shouldn’t really use this heavy leadrope but she was calm and perfect so I brushed off that thought since a trip to the barn to get a proper leadrope would take another 2 minutes…,  I led her along, not thinking of how I had this contraption around her neck.  Then, I opened the gate for her to go into the next field. I remember her bolting when something unexpected popped out from the bushes.  Instead of her going left, she went right – back into the pasture where I was.  Running.

I saw her rump move away from me and she was about 15′ away when it happened.

I knew I hadn’t been hit by a hoof.  But, I had no idea what hit me.  I was wheeled around so fast and on the ground that I was totally confused.  How did I get here?  Luckily, I saw the ground coming and I put out my arms.  But, when I put out my arms, I saw the blood.  So much blood.

This is what hit me at a very high velocity

I took a second to gain my composure and I closed one eye and then the other.  I could see out of both.  Phew.  OK, but I’m bleeding really badly so I better get help.  However, no one was home here.  Hubby was on a hike in the wilderness with the girls.  No cell service there.

I wobbly-walked out of the arena and towards the back door of the house – I didn’t want to get blood on the carpet, of course.  I passed BG and she looked at me so concerned.  (This morning when I fed her she looked right into my eyes and sniffed my wounds – BEFORE she dove into her food.  Unheardof.)

Once in the mud room, I grabbed a kitchen towel and put it to my head.  I did notice the bloody trail I was leaving everywhere behind me and figured that if I didn’t make it, ANYONE could figure this one out.

Then, I went into the downstairs bathroom to look in the mirror.  Well, I couldn’t see a thing for all the blood.  I swear it was just pouring out and running into my ears, eyes and down my neck.  It even ran into my mouth.  Ugh.  I felt like a vampire.  So, I decided to keep the towel in place and forget about looking.

I went upstairs to get my phone book.  But, I couldn’t read any numbers of neighbors because of the blood.

ANOTHER THING TO REMEMBER:  (duh) Put emergency phone numbers in big black marker somewhere near the phone – or have the speed dial number spelled out somewhere.

Anyway, after misdialing a few times, I found a neighbor who was not at home but in his car several miles away.  He hears the fear in my voice and now I’ve scared the beejeezus out of him – but I have to hang up and call another neighbor.  So I do.  He is home and he rushes over.

In the meantime, I call Hubby and leave a message that I’m going to the ER but I’m fine.  Great.  If I was fine, why was I going to the ER?  I wasn’t thinking too clearly.

Neighbor comes, loads me into his car and cannot hide his horror.  By this time, I have bled through the entire towel and the blood is all over my riding clothes and running down my arm.  He tried to make small talk as he drove faster than a speeding bullet towards the nearest hospital 30 minutes away.  But I could tell that he was scared for me.

As an aside, neighbor asked me to call Hubby and tell him which hospital we were heading towards.  I obliged and as I leaned forward to get my purse in the footwell,  I became Old Faithful.  OMG.  I was spurting like an oil well.  I decided to sit back with my gusher and not move again.

Hubby found what was left of my sunglasses in the arena. Thank God I was wearing them.


I was brought in right away – for obvious reasons… That kinda gore isn’t good for waiting rooms.

I was thrilled to be wisked inside.  I wasn’t too happy to hear terms like “bleeder, gusher, fountain, artery, can’t stop it…” but I was happy to be inside.  They didn’t even triage me.  Straight in.

No one could stop the bleeding because I had cut an artery.  The 7 nurses did their best to assuage the flow while waiting for a surgeon to arrive.  Ugh.  The place looked like a Slasher movie.  After I passed out due to low blood pressure, they wheeled me into the OR and put me under.  Hubby was there by then and took a few nice photos.  During all of that mayhem, I had a CAT scan to make sure there was no internal bleeding or fractures and an EKG to make sure I was OK.

15 stitches later and some massive bruising, I’m A-OK!  I thank my lucky stars that I was wearing sunglasses when it happened or I would have severely damaged my eye.

The real photo is much bigger and graphic but I think you get the idea here…


I think that when she bolted, I held onto the wrong half of the rope.  I held onto the rope part and the halter/big brass bolt part was hanging around her neck.  As she ran away, the bolt was gaining velocity on the opposite side of her neck and running along her flank.  As she shot past the bolt and halter part, it whipped back and smashed me on the right side of my face.

The force of the blow threw my head to the right and my body followed – that is how I ended up on the ground.

The bolt must have hit me vertically instead of horizontally because I am bruised from my eyebrow to my lips.  The inside of my lip is totally purple.  I cannot chew on that side.  And, Hubby thinks he can see the impression of the curved part of the snap in the cut by my nose.

The good part, which one of my dear friends pointed out, with all the swelling it looks like I’ve had a nice filler…  I chuckled.  I wish!

I was leading her like this (my model is Gwen, not BG) by the halter end and a piece of the other side. As she ran away, I think I let the wrong end slide through my fingers until it had completely strung itself out 22′ along her body and then whipped around her and back at me.


Don’t be as foolish as I was!

I’m not saying that using a rope instead of a halter over the neck of a quiet horse is a bad thing.  I’m sure I will still do it.

But, think about what you are doing…  It was so stupid of me to put that heavy bolt and halter over her neck and for me to grab the halter end and the rope together instead of switching the rope around so I had the bolt end in my stationary hand or on the ground.  It was stoopid to not realize what end of the rope I had and didn’t have.  Truthfully, I should never have used that kind of a lead rope to throw over her neck in the first place.  It was too heavy, too long and still had a halter attached.

I should have ‘let go’ when she bolted although I’m not sure that would have done anything to help the trajectory of the heavy brass hook.  I think it was coming my way no matter.

You can see the other half of my glasses about 10 feet away from the arrow indicating where I landed.


So here I sit feeling very, very lucky with yet another medical bill (yes, I am insured, thank God!), a hugely swollen face and a lesson learned…

And, a big Thank You to whatever little voice told me to wear sunglasses instead of a visor on this fateful day.  I’m glad that I listened…

Day 1. I took this photo before I started writing today…  That is a bruise, not a mustache!XXX


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