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JUNE/JULY 2013 Miniature Horse World 35 is something owners are doing themselves, they can check for this and catch it early,” explains Freckleton. Nelson says very few horses actually have a solidcolored penis. “There’s usually a pink area on it somewhere, so you should check those areas very closely.” If you notice an unusual lump or raw area, have your veterinarian look at it. HOW OFTEN SHOULD MY HORSE BE CLEANED? “Owners often ask what they should use for cleaning, and how frequently should the sheath be cleaned,” says Tibary. “For geldings that are regularly cleaned, you can do it once or twice a year with mild soap and warm water and thorough rinsing. For any cleanings in between you can use just warm water and cotton,” he says. “One thing many people don’t do often enough is get clear inside the sheath. You can’t just clean it superficially or use a hose. The frequency for cleaning depends on the individual horse. Some need to be cleaned every couple months or so (especially during summer when there’s more dust and dirt) and other horses hardly ever need cleaning. The key is to do it often enough for that particular horse, and not put it off to the point you start smelling the buildup,” he explains. Nelson recommends cleaning and checking geldings twice a year unless they need it more often. “There are some horses that don’t need the sheath cleaned at all, but it’s still a good idea to examine them periodically to check for beans or squamous cell carcinoma,” she says. All horses should have their teeth checked once a year, and this is a good time to check the sheath and penis as well. “They are usually sedated for floating teeth, and this is the perfect time to check the penis since horses will relax and drop it when sedated. In our practice we charge an extra $15 to clean and check the sheath and penis when we are doing the teeth,” says Nelson. HOW DO I CLEAN THE SHEATH? Choose a time when the horse is relaxed, perhaps after being worked. Use warm water—not too hot or cold. “Be very gentle, and use non-abrasive, non-caustic materials,” says Freckleton. Commercial sheath cleaners are appropriate and work well. Nelson prefers the veterinary lubricant used for reproductive work in mares because it is water soluble and very mild. “A lot of veterinarians use liquid Ivory soap and it works well, too, as long as it is rinsed away thoroughly,” says Nelson. “Any dish soap works nicely because smegma is greasy, and dish soap cuts grease,” says Freckleton. “Many horsemen use Dawn because they’ve heard about it being used for degreasing birds and animals after oil spills, but other brands work just as well. It’s just important to get it all rinsed off because soap tends to dry out the skin,” says Freckleton. “In stallions, when we clean them, we are very careful after the initial cleaning to not use very much soap or antiseptics,” says Tibary. “There’s a fine line between thorough cleaning and killing off the normal flora.” There are benign microbes living on the surface tissues and if you kill those, it opens the way for pathogens. For hygiene considerations, a person should wear gloves when cleaning and washing the sheath. “Soft cotton or very soft rags work fine for scrubbing,” says Freckleton. “I often use loose cotton because that’s what we have on the vet truck and it’s soft and disposable. I just take big wads of cotton to use with the warm water.” She doesn’t add the soap to the water. She has a bucket of clean warm water with several handfuls of cotton in it, and puts a squirt of soap on the first one for the initial scrubbing. “After that, I just grab the wet, clean cotton for all the subsequent scrubbing and rinsing.”


Miniature_Horse_World_JuneJuly
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