“The other common abnormality we may find, especially up inside the prepuce when we are getting all the greasy material out, is melanoma,” says Freckleton. This is most common in gray horses but can also occur in other horses. “If the horse has melanomas you and the veterinarian can make a decision about treating the horse or not. The risks and benefits of treatment vary dramatically with each horse. Sometimes they are in a location that will cause a problem and we have to treat them,” she says. “Some of those lumpy tumors can be left alone, but keep checking them to see if they grow. If you are cleaning the sheath yourself, draw a little map of the area, showing the size of those lumps, to see how much they change,” says Freckleton. BEAN REMOVAL Beans are accumulations of smegma in three little pockets in the sunken area like a “moat” around the outside of the opening of the urethra. “These can sometimes be a little hard for some people to find—especially if the horse is trying to get it away from you or kick!” says Freckleton. “To get beans out, you have to feel them in 38 Miniature Horse World JUNE/JULY 2013 SQUEAKY CLEAN? “Some horsemen believe that keeping the sheath clean can help minimize the squeaky noise geldings sometimes make when trotting or the tip of the penis and give them a gentle squeeze toward the center, toward the urethra, and they will pop out,” she says. It’s best to do this often enough that they don’t get huge. “If they are really big, or really hard, you have no choice but to have your veterinarian sedate the horse and give you help in getting them out. It’s too painful for the horse to expect him to stand for this otherwise,” Freckleton says. “How quickly beans build up can vary dramatically, depending on the horse. We have a couple horses in our practice that build up so quickly that we have them scheduled for an every-six-months appointment to sedate them and get the beans out. The beans reform quickly and are rock hard. These horses are constantly defensive about having the penis handled and there’s no way the owner can do it,” Freckleton says. cantering,” says Freckleton. “I think that in some horses it does help. This noise is caused by tight belly muscles when the horse is tense and nervous; it seems to happen less when the horse is relaxed. If the horse is tense because he is uncomfortable in the sheath, this could be a factor. If a horse is making that noise and the owner wants to try to do something about it, I usually recommend cleaning the sheath to see if that helps, but I also mention that tension can be the cause,” she says. “Once in awhile I get feedback that after the sheath was cleaned, the horse stopped making that noise. There may be an occasional horse that’s tight up there while trotting because of discomfort,” she says. In contrast there are other horses that never need beans removed, in their entire life. “It’s all a matter of individual body chemistry. One owner was criticizing herself thinking she’d done something wrong letting the beans build up, but the horse just came with that kind of body chemistry.” When checking for beans, it gives you a chance to glance at the tip of the urethra to make sure it looks healthy. “This is another place where squamous cell carcinoma might start. Also, the greasy smegma/dirt mixture tends to accumulate most heavily in the entryway to the prepuce or sheath. It’s important to get this out,” she says.
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