Category Archives: Medical

Why you (or your vet) need to watch for SHEATH BEANS!






I know… sheath cleaning is difficult/unsafe for many owners to do on their own.  And, luckily, sheath cleaning mostly isn’t necessary and not recommended by vets – if your horse is mostly healthy.  But sometimes, there is a buildup of nasty down there…

For the geldings who love sheath cleaning (and are safe), I use Equi-Spa Sheath and Udder Cleaner.  It is inexpensive, works great on both Sheath and Udder grodyness AND the best part, it is all natural so you don’t have to worry about rinsing absolutely.  The Cleaner is smooth, smells great and is good for their skin.

With the geldings that won’t let me near ‘that area’, I’ve learned to have it done by the vet when the horses their teeth floated.  Often floats don’t need sedation, but if they do, it is a perfect time.  But don’t go crazy with the sheath cleaning because humans can sometimes cause more harm than good by over-scrubbing.

In any event, keep a watch on the sheath… because…sometimes… THIS (below) is what can accumulate.  Ugh!

SHEATH BEANS.

Many of you have never seen what could be lurking in your gelding’s sheath.  Well, here is a really good image of a ‘bean’.

I took this from the FB page of Grace Owen, DVM

She says:

Sheath cleaning in geldings and stallions:

You can see the large “bean” of smegma that has accumulated in the urethral sinus of this horse’s penis. Many horses will require sedation to clean this area thoroughly. I recommend cleaning horses sheaths about once year with a very gentle cleaner. More harm can come from over cleaning than under cleaning. If you question whether or not your horse’s sheath needs to be cleaned, have your veterinarian take a look.

Yuk

Blech

FROM THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF EQUINE PRACTITIONERS

Click image to go to original article

Question: I just bought my first horse—a gelding. My fellow barn mates tell me that I need to clean his sheath several times a year. Do I really need to do that, and, if so, how?

A. Contrary to popular belief, cleaning a horse’s penis and the sheath containing it (the prepuce) is rarely necessary. In fact, the aggressive cleaning methods promoted by many well-meaning horsepeople often do more harm than good. Here are some myths commonly used to justify this practice:

Myth #1: Accumulation on the penis is dirty and unhygienic. This is a typical anthropomorphic assumption that male horses have the same hygienic needs as male humans. As with most things we do to horses to make them align better with our lifestyles, we’d be better off letting horses be horses. When a stallion or gelding extends or “lets down” his penis, the accumulation you see on it is smegma, not dirt. This material is continually -secreted from the penis for a very specific purpose: It provides lubrication and a protective covering for the penis.

Some horses produce dry, flaky smegma, while others produce moist, goopy smegma. Both are perfectly normal. The amount produced varies widely among individuals. For example, horses with white pigmentation on their penises seem to produce more smegma than horses with dark penises. Excessive smegma accumulation is extremely rare and usually associated with skin conditions or lesions, like herpesvirus or squamous cell carcinoma—a common tumor found on the penis—that need to be diagnosed by your veterinarian.

Myth #2: All male horses require routine sheath cleaning. The best proof that sheath cleaning is completely unnecessary is the reproductive health of stallions observed in the wild. These horses, who obviously have never had their sheaths cleaned, have documented conception rates approaching 85 percent. Domestic stallions, on the other hand, who do frequently have their sheaths cleaned—sometimes as often as three to four times a day—often average only a 70 percent conception rate.

Some instances in which sheath cleaning may be medically recommended are when a horse has suffered a laceration in the area, has undergone surgery to remove a cancerous growth, has a skin condition from equine herpesvirus or has squamous cell carcinoma.

Myth #3: Swelling in the sheath and tail rubbing are signs that a horse’s sheath needs cleaning. When a sheath swells, it has nothing to do with the accumulation of smegma inside it. -Because of its location on the underside of the horse, it is simply a natural low point where excess fluid is drawn by the force of gravity. For example, an older horse with low protein levels in his blood or liver disease may experience fluid buildup, called edema or pitting edema—swelling that holds a depression when you press into it with your thumb—in the sheath area without exhibiting any other clinical signs. In such cases, the swelling likely will disappear if the horse is turned out or exercised, just as it would from the legs of a horse who stocks up when stalled for long periods of time.

Another common cause of sheath swelling is parasites. Parasites also make horses’ tails itchy. So if you notice your horse rubbing his tail and he has a swollen sheath, the latter condition isn’t causing the former. Both can be cured by deworming with an ivermectin-containing product.

Myth #4: An unusually large smegma “bean” can block a horse’s urethra. Smegma can accumulate in the depression at the end of the penis, called the urethral fossa. Commonly known as the “bean,” this smegma plug can vary from about the size of a small eraser to a lima bean. When male horses stand “camped out”—with their hind legs stretched behind them and their backs hunched in an uncomfortable-looking stance—some people worry that they’re having trouble urinating. But the force of a horse’s urine stream is far too strong to be inhibited by any amount of smegma. In fact, the “camped-out” stance is usually a sign of abdominal pain caused, for example, by ulcers or colic.

Not only is sheath cleaning unnecessary, it can often be harmful. The traditional method of poking a hose up into the sheath and scrubbing it and the penis with sponges and antibacterial soap removes the natural protective covering and healthy bacteria population, potentially causing microabrasions and sores.

If you feel absolutely compelled to clean your horse’s penis for cosmetic reasons before a show, follow a quick, efficient, soap-free procedure. To -encourage him to let down for cleaning, try bathing him on a warm, sunny day. Then stand by his front legs to avoid getting stepped on if he sidesteps during the process. Wearing disposable gloves, gently grasp the end of his penis with one hand and run the other hand up the shaft, knocking off the smegma. You should be able to clean the penis adequately this way without using water. If necessary, though, you can run a small stream of warm water over the penis—but avoid scrubbing with towels or sponges. Then pat the penis dry with paper towels.

If your horse doesn’t relax enough to let down or refuses to stand still for the procedure, don’t resort to more forceful restraints, such as a twitch. This will just stimulate his fear mechanism, making it harder to clean his sheath in the future. Instead, ask your veterinarian to sedate him and perform the cleaning for you.

Expect whatever cleaning you do to be short-lived. Normal smegma production will restore the accumulation to your horse’s regular level within about a week.

A specialist in equine reproduction and infertility, Dr. Benjamin Espy has practiced veterinary medicine in Texas and Kentucky and is board certified in equine reproduction and licensed to practice acupuncture. He recently served on the AAEP Board of Directors and the Board of Directors for the American College of Theriogenology (www.theriogenology.org). Dr. Espy is also the liaison for the Texas Equine Veterinary Association and is a veterinarian for the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association during the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo.


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REALLY? An injury… NOW?! – Don’t worry, its me, the horses are fine!






REALLY?  An injury… NOW?!

I’m sure all of you have said that at one time or another.  I mean, when is a good time for an injury?  And for me, now… it is the ILILOTIBIAL BAND.  Or more commonly known as:

IT Band.

That’s what’s wrong with me, and I’ve never even heard of it.  I never knew I had it!

Oy, this is painful.

UGH

Considering that I still have all of my limbs, I’m not that bad off.    It is just that one of them is acting like its hinges are rusted.

It started with a tingling down my left leg and a pain in my hip.   I ignored it, as one does…  and my body responded by seizing and not allowing me to use that leg, at all… “Fine, if you don’t want to pay attention to this, TAKE THAT!”  I was immobile.

This was about 3 weeks ago.  I knew I was going to meet Dalton and I knew I’d want to work him on the ground and in the saddle.  But not like this…

First, I had to figure out what was wrong.

So, instead of going to the doctor, I started researching the symptoms on Dr. Google (always dangerous…).  When I realized I probably had sciatica, I took a bunch of Advil and babied it.

That didn’t work.  Hmmmm.  Maybe it isn’t sciatica.  Maybe I need to go see someone other than Dr. Google who knows about these things because…

…time was running out.

So, I called Jeannett Burrows who does Therapeutic Massage Craniosacral – Acupressure – Reiki -Neuromuscular for humans, horses  and dogs.  She was so AMAZING with BG, I figured couldn’t hurt and would most likely help – I  could use an educated tweak.  However, Jeannette couldn’t come for a week…  so I was going to meet Dalton anyway, hobbled or not.

For me, it burns at my outer hip, groin and down the outside of my leg to my knee.

DALTON Meet and Greet.  Gorgeous Youth meets Hobbled, Twisted Human.

On the meet and greet with Dalton, I was in agony, but I kept it to myself.  It is truly tough to be fluid when you – aren’t.  Once I was in my car on the way home,  I cried.

Two days later was the riding day.   It wasn’t as bad, but when I got off, I could barely walk.

This was not fun.  I needed to be fixed to enjoy Dalton – and all the other moments of my day.

Everything labeled, hurts. There is no way my knee will roll or lay to the outside.

ENOUGH ALREADY.  I’LL DO ANYTHING.

Jeannette came yesterday.  She put me on a massage table and went to work.  I felt like an Olympian with the team doctor.  I swear, she puts her ALL into it.  Now I know why the horses love her!

It was tough, but I felt GREAT afterwards and I could walk without pain.  She told me it would come back and that I had to do these exercises 3x a day.

It did and I did.

THE NEXT DAY, TODAY, I RODE DALTON AGAIN.

I was much better, but still wonky and not fluid.  For some reason, I thought riding him in a bareback pad would be less painful.

I was wrong, but it was fun anyway.   And, when I got home I did my exercises.  When I get up, I’ll do the same…

You know what they say, “At least you have your health…”.  I’m going to remember that.

Sweetbeau Horses has a cute Western Town facade. Here we are, getting a drink. (It is tough to take his pic)

Here we are at one end of the arena. He hates arena work…

Here he is, contemplating going all the way to the other end…

After the arena, I got off to do some of the exercises Jeannette gave me. Dalton was with me, looking on and eating my hair.

Then we went outside and checked out what was going on around the ranch.

After a few hours of barebacking around, I put him away. This is his ‘goodbye’ face.


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