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Male horses might have difficulty urinating or might rub their tails because of a dirty sheath. The sheath is the protective envelope of skin around the penis. Fatty secretions, dead skin cells, and dirt accumulate in the folds of the sheath. In addition, a “bean” of material can accumulate in the diverticulum adjacent to the urethral opening. This black, foul smelling, somewhat waxy substance is called smegma.

Depending on the individual horse’s smegma production, the sheath should be cleaned about once or twice a year. You can clean the sheath somewhat with the penis retracted into the sheath, but you can do a more thorough job if the penis is down. Once a horse is accustomed to the procedure, he will likely relax and let his penis down for cleaning. Usually the best time for this is on a warm day after a work out when the horse is somewhat tired and relaxed. If the horse is very touchy in his genital area, you could have your veterinarian tranquilize the horse so your horse will be more manageable and relaxed.

To clean a sheath, you will need:

  • warm water
  • a hose
  • a small bucket
  • mild soap
  • rubber gloves,
  • a tube sock
  • and hand towels
  • Because smegma has a strong, offensive odor, first put a rubber glove on your right hand and then cover it with a large tube sock. Use a safe handling position with your left hand up on the horse’s back. Do not lower your head to see what you are doing or you could be kicked.

    Soak the sock in warm water and wet the sheath area with handfuls of water. Alternatively, if you have warm water at your barn, you can use a hose to wet the area. Add a very small amount of liquid soap (such as Ivory) to the tube sock and begin washing the sheath inside and out. There are also several commercial products designed especially for sheath cleaning. You will be able to remove large chunks and sheets of smegma as you work.

    The best way I have found to rinse the sheath thoroughly is with a hose, warm water and moderate to low pressure. Most horses learn to tolerate, and then enjoy this after one session. You can insert the hose 2-3″ into the sheath to rinse. However, until accustomed, a horse’s natural reaction is to kick upward with one of the hind legs. A horse can easily reach a fly on his belly with this method so your hand and arm could be in danger. Hold them as high and as close to the horse’s belly as possible until the horse gets used to the sensation of the water.

    Older horses that are quite used to the process will lower the penis so you can clean the penis also. Use only warm water on the penis, no soap. Often a ball of smegma, called a “bean”, will accumulate in the diverticulum near the urethral opening. The bean can build up to a size that could interfere with urination. Sometimes the “bean” material is white but usually is black. To remove it, move the skin at the end of the penis near the urethral opening until you find a blind pouch. This part of sheath cleaning is the time when your horse is most likely to kick. Usually once you find the bean, you can roll it out quite easily. A bean the size of a kidney bean can cause discomfort on urination.

    Udder cleaning is a snap compared to sheath cleaning. Use the same supplies, techniques and safety principles.

    Horse Health Care by Cherry Hill

    Horse Health Care by Cherry Hill

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    Dear Cherry,

    I recently learned that I was the new owner of a couple of horses. One a pony and the other a brown and white horse. The pony has been broke before. The big horse has not. We have land for them to roam and water and plenty of food for them. But I have never owned a horse and would like to most definitely learn. I just don’t know how to approach this situation. How should I begin this process?

    Thanks, Salvador

    Hello Salvador,

    Well, you have a most exciting adventure ahead of you.

    First of all, although you can learn a lot from the internet, books and DVDs, the best possible advice I can give to you is for you to find an experienced, trusted horse owner or trainer/instructor in your area who can help you get started. For example, you will need to find a farrier and a veterinarian and an experienced horse owner/trainer/instructor in your locale so you have people to contact.

    101 Horsekeeping Tips DVDAn experienced horse owner will be able to take a look at your fences and pastures and give you an opinion as to if their suitability for horses and if your pastures provide enough of the right type of feed. Even if you have wonderful pastures and water, you will need to provide the horses with salt and mineral blocks. Horses should have access to salt at all times.

    Horsekeeping On A Small AcreageAs far as taking care of the horses on your land and managing your fences and buildings, I’ve written a book specifically for that. It is called Horsekeeping on a Small Acreage and discusses all you need to know as far as the care of the horse on your property.Horse Health Care by Cherry Hill

    Horse For Sale by Cherry HillWhen it comes to specific health care skills such as feeding, deworming, vaccinations, hoof care and so on, you can ask your farrier and veterinarian to help you somewhat and you can also refer to Horse Health Care and Horse Hoof Care.

    Now when it comes to handling the horses, ask your experienced new friend to help you assess what the pony and the horse know and what they need to learn. Then you can make a plan as to how to proceed from day to day. It is probably best for the horses and your safety for you to have help with both the pony and the horse until you have developed the confidence to handle them on your own. I have posted much information on my website about ground training, manners and so on which will be very helpful to you. And I’ve written many books on all levels of training. You can look through a complete list of books by topics in the Book Barn.

    Once you get started, you will have a hundred more specific questions, so feel free to write again.

    Best of luck and be safe,Cherry Hill horse trainer and author of 30 books and DVDs

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    Cherry,

    I’ve heard people around the barn talking about getting the wolf teeth taken out of their horses. What are they and is it necessary? Can my vet do this or do I need to take my horse to a special dentist? Will my horse need to be drugged to do it? I’d rather not have this done unless it is absolutely necessary. Mac

    Hi Mac,

    First a little tooth geography. See the diagram of Horse Teeth .

    ©  2010 Cherry Hill © Copyright Information

    At the front of your horse’s mouth are the incisors. At the back of the horse’s mouth are the premolars and the molars. In between the incisors and the premolars is a relatively tooth-free space called the interdental space, also called the bars. This is where the bit sets. In the interdental space, there might be certain additional teeth.

    Most male horses five years of age and older have four canine teeth in the interdental space located about an inch or two behind the incisors. Some mares (about 20%) have small canines or canine buds, usually on the lower jaw.

    Both male and female horses can have wolf teeth. Wolf teeth are actually the first premolars. But they are smaller than the other premolars because they are remnants of teeth from prehistoric horses and through evolution have decreased in size and frequency of appearance. Most, but not all, horses have wolf teeth. They appear more commonly in the upper jaw but can appear in the lower jaw. Wolf teeth start coming in at about six months of age and are fully visible by 12 to 18 months in horses that are going to have them.

    Some wolf teeth fall out at about 3 years of age when the horse sheds the temporary second premolar.

    Wolf teeth are removed surgically if their size or location could cause painful bumping by the snaffle bit or pinching of the horse’s skin between the wolf teeth and snaffle bit. If a wolf tooth is small and fits tightly up against the second premolar, it might not cause a problem. But if the wolf tooth is large or there is a space between the wolf tooth and second premolar, it is much more likely to result in a problem because the tooth is standing alone, unprotected and the mouthpiece of the bit could hang up in the space between the wolf tooth and the second premolar.

    Wolf teeth are usually removed when a yearling colt is gelded to take advantage of the fact that he is already sedated for the castration. With fillies, wolf teeth can be removed anytime after about 12 months of age and before snaffle bit training begins.

    Your veterinarian will likely use a sedative and a local anesthetic to perform the extraction. Stocks are an asset for dental work and a twitch may also be used to ensure added control. Most veterinarians use a periosteal elevator to expose as much of the tooth as possible before extraction.

    The root of wolf teeth is shallow, about 1/2 inch in young horses. Wolf teeth are relatively soft and can be easily crushed during removal which would be a bad thing. If a tooth splinters during removal and small pieces are left in the jaw, an abscess can result. If a small portion of the root breaks off below the gum line, often the remaining root tip will be absorbed and cause no problem.

    So Mac, I’d suggest you have your veterinarian examine your horse and advise you as to whether removing the wolf teeth would be a good idea. It will depend on the size and location of the wolf teeth, the age of your horse, if you use a snaffle bit on your horse, and if you have had any indications that the bit might be contacting the wolf teeth. If your horse has been becoming more difficult to turn or stop or if he throws his head up when you make contact with the rein, then he might be having dental problems and it is possible it could be due to wolf teeth. A thorough dental examination can reveal any problems.

    For more information on teeth, refer to these books:

    Horse Health Care pages 26-35

    – Deciduous Tooth Eruption schedule

    – Permanent Tooth Eruption schedule

    – Mouth of 2 year old

    – Mouth of Mature horse

    – The horse’s jaw

    – Floating

    – Dental Warning Signs

    – Step-by-step photo guide to mouth exam

    Making Not Breaking , pages 58-66

    – Fit of the snaffle and reactions to the snaffle as it relates to mouth and teeth

    Best of luck,

    Cherry Hill

    P.S. Sherlock was gelded at 6 months. Since his wolf teeth hadn’t appeared yet, they were not removed at that customary time. At 18 months of age, I saw that he had two medium sized upper wolf teeth. Most wolf teeth are located right next to the premolars but Sherlock’s were about an inch in front of his premolars – that left a dangerous gap that could allow the mouthpiece of a snaffle bit to either bang on the wolf teeth or get caught in between the wolf teeth and the premolars.

    So at 24 months of age, with Sherlock backed into the loose stocks, the vet sedated Sherlock and removed his wolf teeth. A simple on-the-farm procedure that took about 10 minutes.

    (First photo below) The vet used an adjustable crutch to support Sherlock’s sedated horse’s head. He added extra padding to the underarm pad and it serves as an underchin pad to hold up Sherlock’s head as he works. Richard really liked the crutch!

    (Second photo below) The vet used a headlamp to help him see into the dark recesses of Sherlock’s mouth.

    (Last photo below) Sherlock’s wolf teeth, showing the very shallow roots. There is about 1/2″ of tooth above the gum and 1/2″ of root below the gum. The wolf tooth on the left has more tissue debris so it only looks longer.

    horse, dental care, wolf tooth, photo, teeth, veterinarian, stocks, loose stocks, wolf tooth removal, wolf teeth, vet, first premolar, Sherlock, two-year-old
    horse, dental care, wolf tooth, photo, teeth, veterinarian, stocks, loose stocks, wolf tooth removal, wolf teeth, vet, first premolar, Sherlock, two-year-old
    horse, dental care, wolf tooth, photo, teeth, veterinarian, stocks, loose stocks, wolf tooth removal, wolf teeth, vet, first premolar, Sherlock, two-year-old, root, gums

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    Where is the summer going ??!! I can’t believe August is nearly half gone.

    But no matter what month of the year, we horsekeepers are busy ! Here are a few things pertinent to August here on Long Tail Ranch.

    These are excerpts from my book Cherry Hill’s Horsekeeping Almanac.

    ©  2010 Cherry Hill © Copyright Information

    Cherry Hill's Horsekeeping Almanac

    Dental Work

    Fall is a good time to have routine dental work completed: floating teeth, removing wolf teeth if necessary, and removing retained caps. Because a horse’s upper jaw is wider than the lower jaw and horses chew from side to side, as their molars wear, they form sharp points on the outside of the upper molars and the inside of the lower molars. To keep these sharp points from cutting your horse’s tongue or cheeks as he eats, they should be filed (floated) regularly with a special file called a float that attaches to a long handle.

    At the same time, your vet can remove caps and/or wolf teeth. Caps are temporary premolars (baby teeth) and molars that have not completely dislodged even though the permanent ones have erupted. In between dental visits, monitor your horse to determine if he needs more frequent visits.

    Here are some sign of necessary dental work:

      • Bad odor from mouth
      • Quids (wads of food around feeding area)
      • Feed falling from mouth during eating
      • Weight loss
      • Sharp points

    Remove a Loose Shoe

    Use the following procedure to remove a shoe that has become bent, dangerously loose, or has rotated on your horse’s hoof. Necessary tools include : clinch cutter, hammer, pull-offs, and crease nail puller.

    1. Using the chisel end of the clinch cutter, open the clinches by tapping the spine of the clinch cutter with the hammer. A clinch is the end of the nail folded over; this needs to be opened so that the nails can slide straight through the hoof wall when pulled without taking large hunks of hoof with them.If the shoe has a crease on the bottom, you may be able to use the crease nail puller to extract each nail individually allowing the shoe to come off.Nails with protruding heads can be pulled out using the pull-offs. If you can’t pull the nails out individually, then you will have to remove the shoe with the pull-offs.
    2. After the clinches have been opened, grab a shoe heel and pry toward the tip of the frog.
    3. Do the same with the other shoe heel.
    4. When both heels are loose, grab one side of the shoe at the toe and pry toward the tip of the frog. Repeat around the shoe until it is removed.Never pry toward the outside of the hoof or you risk ripping big chunks out of the hoof wall. As the nail heads protrude from the loosening of the shoe, you can pull them out individually with the pull-offs.
    5. Pull any nails that may remain in the hoof.
    6. Protect the bare hoof. Keep the horse confined in soft bedding.

    Blister Beetles

    Four to six grams of blister beetles (whole or part, fresh or dried) can kill and 1100 pound horse. That’s because they contain cantharidin, a toxic and caustic poison. There is no antidote. Research has shown it is the striped blister beetle that is the source of cantharidin.

    Typically, blister beetles will appear after the first cut (mid June or later) and disappear by October, so usually first cut and last (late 4th) cut hay is safer than 2nd or 3rd cut. Blister beetles tend to cluster in large groups often in the area of 1-2 bales but hay growers know that if left alone after cutting, most blister beetles evacuate the field. You need to know your alfalfa hay grower; ask him what he did to eliminate blister beetles in the field.

    Buy only first cut or October hay. Inspect alfalfa hay before you buy and again before you feed.

    Protect Riparian Areas

    Riparian refers to the vegetation and soils alongside streams, creeks, rivers, and ponds. These are precious areas that can easily be damaged by horses.

    Manure, urine, overgrazing, destruction of trees, and the creation of muddy banks all can lead to less vegetation, warmer water temperatures, more algae, less fish, and decreased wildlife habitat. Monitor and limit horses’ access to natural water sources so that a natural buffer zone of grasses, brush and trees is preserved around the edges of ponds and creeks. This buffer zone is essential for filtering nutrients from excess runoff before it enters the water.

    Choke Cherries

    Choke cherries are ripe during August. Although horses don’t eat the berries, the leaves are poisonous to horses and the berries attract bears.

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    Hi Cherry,

    I have a Quarter Horse gelding that is really good about just about everything. My problem is that he seems to always spit out the wormer, usually with a big wad of hay or grass. He takes the wormer good enough but then spits it out. I hate to waste the dang stuff ’cause it’s so expensive. Is there any way to make sure he gets the wormer down?

    Thanks, Beatrice

    Hello Beatrice,

    Horse Health Care by Cherry HillFirst of all, the correct name for the paste that you are trying to give your horse is dewormer, not wormer. A dewormer gets rid of worms; a wormer would give your horse worms ! Smiling deworming buddy.

    101 Horsekeeping Tips DVDIt’s great that your have mastered the skill of giving your horse the dewormer and that he accepts deworming without a fuss. To be sure that the dewormer gets to the worms and does its job, you’ll need to make sure your horse’s mouth is clean before administering the paste. To see how to do this, watch this video clips “Wads ‘n Worms” from our DVD, 101 Horsekeeping Tips.



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    hi my name is aleeah. I have my aunts horse at my house caring for her. Today we treated her for worms and she is already felling better. But something is wrong with her leg. All of my family have looked at it and my nieghber that is a nurse has already looked at it what should i do.

    Hello Alleah,

    If you and your family have other horses, then you must have a veterinarian that you could call to have a look at the horse’s leg. If you are not horseowners, then you should ask your aunt what veterinarian she uses and call that horse doctor to come and look at your aunt’s horse.

    If you do not have horses and your aunt doesn’t have a veterinarian or you can’t contact her, then look in the Yellow Pages section of the phone book under Veterinarian and look for one that says Equine or Large Animal. Perhaps you or one of your parents could give the veterinarian some symptoms over the phone and make an appointment for the veterinarian to drive over to your house to look at the horse.

    In the meantime, visit my Horse Information Roundup to read lots of articles on health care, lameness, hoof care and more.

    Best of luck and let me know what you find out.

    Cherry Hill

    Horse Health Care by Cherry Hill

    Horse Health Care by Cherry Hill

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    VETERINARY CARE
    ©  2010 Cherry Hill © Copyright Information

    Although your veterinarian will perform many routine and emergency tasks for you, you must be responsible for knowing what to schedule and when.

    Immunization Annual vaccinations can protect your horse from certain diseases.  Most horses should be vaccinated against Tetanus, Eastern and Western Encephalomyelitis, Influenza, and Rhinopneumonitis.  In some parts of the country, Potomac Horse Fever, Rabies, and Strangles vaccines are also recommended.

    Tetanus (lockjaw) is an infection of the nervous system caused by bacteria that enter through a wound or a foal’s umbilical cord.  The muscles stiffen so severely that within a few days the animal dies or must be euthanized.

    Encephalomyelitis (sleeping sickness) is caused by a virus carried by a mosquito.  The mosquito transports the virus from a wild bird or animal to your horse.  The horse gets a high fever, is paralyzed and dies within 2-4 days.

    Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus.  It’s a common respiratory disease spread by coughing that is rarely fatal.

    Rhinopneumonitis (snots) usually affects 4-6 month old foals.  Pregnant broodmares that come in contact with this virus might abort.

    Distemper (strangles) is a highly contagious bacterial infection that causes the glands near the throat to swell.  The horse will not eat or drink and gets a very high fever but rarely dies.

    Rabies rarely affects horses but can result in death.  The virus is transmitted from an infected animal to the horse by a bite, usually from a dog, a skunk, a fox, or a bat.

    Equine Infectious Anemia (swamp fever) is a virus that infects the horse’s blood and is spread from one horse to another through a biting insect.  There is no vaccine to protect your horse against swamp fever but the Coggins test identifies carriers.

    Diseases are spread either directly from one horse to another, from a contaminated stall or feeder to a horse, between horses eating or drinking from communal areas, or through the air.

    If a horse is contaminated, use a combination of treatment, disinfecting, and quarantine to keep the disease from spreading and to eliminate the organism that caused it.

    Poison Prevention Horses investigate unknown things with their lips so all dangerous substances must be kept out of their reach.  Use safe paint.  Don’t let horses get near junk or vehicles where they might ingest toxic paints, plastic, rubber, antifreeze, or battery fluid.  Don’t apply insecticides or herbicides near their feed or water areas and be aware of which way the wind is blowing when you are spraying.  Read all labels very carefully or you might accidentally give your horse an overdose of an antibiotic, dewormer or nutritional supplement.

    Dental Care Once a year your vet should float (rasp) your horse’s molars to prevent dangerous sharp points from cutting the horse’s cheeks and tongue.  At the same time, your vet can pop any caps (baby teeth) that might hang on when the adult teeth have erupted.  If your horse has wolf teeth (small tooth directly in front of the premolars) it can be removed to prevent problems with the snaffle bit.

    Parasite Control All horses have internal parasites.  The worm eggs in manure hatch into larvae that are eaten by the horse.  Once inside the horse they subsist on the horse’s blood while they mature, lay eggs and continue the cycle.  Bots live inside the horse until the pupae drops to the ground with manure and hatches into a bot fly.  Although bot flies look like bees, they don’t sting but lay eggs on the horse’s hair.  Nose bots try to fly up the horse’s nose, which causes most horses to strike viciously with their front legs and run frantically.  This is a very dangerous situation.

    To prevent your horse from becoming dull coated, pot bellied, and lethargic, deworm your horse every 8 weeks.  Remove manure from his living quarters daily.  Remove bot eggs from his hair every day beginning in August.

    Taking good care of a horse is one of the most satisfying experiences that I know.  There is no sight quite like a bright, alert horse that is sound, shiny and ready to go.

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