Twice a year we have our horses’ teeth checked, since a horse will continue to erupt teeth its entire life and sometimes they can wear unevenly and even create sharp points that can hurt their mouth.
And should any of the geldings need to have some sedation in order to have their teeth “floated,” or filed down, I will take that opportunity to have a very personal detail of their grooming attended to: the cleaning of their sheath.
As you can imagine, not all boy horses are crazy about someone trying to scrub their male parts with soap and water. But if you don’t, then dirt, dead skin cells and smegma, an icky, waxy substance, can accumulate inside the sheath and in some cases, form a little ball–called a “bean”– that interferes with urine flow.
Yech, you say? I couldn’t agree more.
I have oh so cautiously attended to this matter before with a fully awake horse, and I can tell you, it’s much, much easier when they’re doped up and in their happy place.
A case in point this spring was Silver, our very senior horse boarder who is nearing his 35th birthday–that’s the human equivalent of 106! –and who had the telltale signs of a bean, which was smegma on the insides of his legs.
But when I broached the idea to him of removing his bean, Silver let me know that at his age, he wasn’t going to suffer the indignity, and I didn’t want to distress him. Who knows what his heart can take?
So the vet gave Silver a very small amount of sedative, just enough to keep the old guy complacent about someone getting that up close and personal with him, and the vet’s assistant (bless her!) went to work.
The process apparently distressed Lola the goat, who ran to check on Silver as soon as it was over.
Now that the bean was gone, the smegma had to go. The very next weekend, it warmed up enough for Silver to have a full bath, and our two farm helpers, Josephine and Charlotte, gave him a deluxe spa treatment.
As an extra thanks, we brought Yukon to the arena, where the girls took turns taking him for a spin.
Altogether, a really good day.