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Korven Kuningas 12-12-2008 01:17 PM

Swollen Sheath
I got woke up today by a phone call from my friend concerning her gelding's sheath. She told me it was really swollen and big, so I decided to go take a peek at it for myself. She was right, it was HUGE. Not just huge, but quite warm to the touch an the swelling made it quite heavy and bulky.

She cleans his sheath yearly and she felt inside and she said there wasn't any debris or anything else in it that may be at fault for the sudden swelling. Apparently it wasn't like that yesterday either. I have geldings myself and I've never seen or heard of anything like it before. Her gelding is acting fine and eating normally, so he doesn't seem too bothered by it.

Does anyone have any idea what could be the cause of the swelling? Has anyone encountered something similar?

The horse isn't ridden much due to his back issues, could lack of exercise play a role in it?

Any input is appreciated. I told her I'd ask around, but she should have the vet come out regardless.

MatchMaker 12-12-2008 01:35 PM

I knew a horse who had this. It happened overnight and the entire sheath as well as the area surrounding it was swollen like crazy. It turned out that the horse had a small piece of hay in the sheath that had formed an abscess of sorts. He was fine after we cleaned up the abscess.

Obviously it could be a lot of other things too, possibly he got kicked there?
Anyway, that was my only experience with sheath swelling, definitely get the vet out there to check on it. Good luck!

ToveroMom 12-12-2008 01:36 PM

Did she just clean his sheath?

TrueColours 12-12-2008 05:37 PM

That will usually occur through trauma. He could have kicked at it getting up or down or if his penis was extended and it got bent or he hit it could have broken a blood vessel which in turn would enlarge the sheath area

If she is sure there isnt any debris in there, generally the course of treatment is cold hosing as many times as possible during the day and giving banamine and then something like anaphen to control any pain, and then an antinflammatory like bute to reduce the swelling as much as possible

It will go down eventually if it was trauma caused, but will generally take about 3-4 weeks to do so and if it turns maroon and purple in colour over the course of the next few days, she'll know it WAS caused by trauma

version1955 12-12-2008 05:55 PM

I'd simply get a vet over there ASAP. The consequences of not getting this taken care of could cost the life of the horse or at the very least make him incredibly uncomfortable. There is definitely an infection for whatever reason.

Some geldings are fine with once a year, but things change and so its important to check for a buildup of debris every couple of months regardless. It could be that there is a bean that has built up and built up and is now a problem. It could be a lot of things. Only a vet will be able to find out and treat it properly.

Korven Kuningas 12-12-2008 07:19 PM

Thanks for your responses, guys. I don't think he's had his sheath cleaned since the summer, but I'm going to tell her to call the vet and clean it before the vet is able to come out. She was scared because she saw something a site about sheath swelling caused by heart failure or kidney issues and I think that's all the more reason to have a vet out. It's probably nothing that serious, but hey... you never know. Apparently he lays inside of the barn and there's manure on there so I wouldn't be surprised it some bacteria and stuff from manure got inside of his sheath and may be partially to blame for the swelling.

I know I'm bad, but I've not yet cleaned my geldings' sheaths. I just got one of my geldings this past Monday, but I've had the other for about two years. I suppose I'll have to do that dirty job this spring.

version1955 12-13-2008 09:34 AM

Yeah, we all hope it is only an infection from being dirty. Some geldings need to be cleaned more often than others. Let us know how it all turns out, okay?

fishing_trex 12-13-2008 01:48 PM

My older gelding had to be cleaned once/month in the winter; every day in the summer -- vet's orders. I never used anything very strong (KY or just plain water). If we didn't at least rinse him out every day in the summer, the flies would get in there and lay eggs -- and we all know what happens to fly eggs. Bleah. If we didn't clean him out about once/month in the winter, he would get all swollen -- almost overnight. We had that horse for about 5 years before this started -- and it started very quickly (we went from cleaning him twice a year to having to do it more often in a period of about 2 months and lots of swelling). He was just a very dirty horse and he stopped dropping (which really makes them messy).

Since this hasn't happened to him before, the vet is a good idea. But I'd have the vet check for other possibilities as well (cancer, allergic reactions, etc.).

BarnBum 12-13-2008 02:10 PM

Hope your friends gelding is ok and its something simple. Let us know what the vet says !!

mlh619 12-13-2008 02:15 PM

The gelding I recently bought had the same problem and the vet attributed it to either trauma (he said unlikely there was no bruising or anything), weather (it was starting to get colder, horses move around less), poor nutrition (to go with rest of his poor body condition) or an internal problem such as uti or tumor of some sort (he is gray). By the time I got the horse home a week and half later, some of the swelling had gone down and once he was on good food and his body condition improved a bit it seems to have disappeared. I was given antibiotics for him but I didn't feel the need to give them to him. I think it was a combination of weather and poor body condition. Maybe it is weather related? I would get the vet out if it didn't look like it was improving in three days or so

Korven Kuningas 12-13-2008 04:41 PM

I guess the vet was out today and he found not one, but THREE beans inside. Apparently my friend never did that job along with the actual sheath cleaning. I didn't hear anything else that may have contributed to the swelling. But at least the poor guy has been taken care of and will no longer be discomforted.

Thanks for all your concern, guys.

For normal geldings with no special cleaning schedules, how often are you supposed to engage in that unpleasant task?

version1955 12-13-2008 05:07 PM

Whoa! I was thinking it was something like that. Well, the good news is that she called the vet out ASAP. You wouldn't believe how many people jibber jabber their horse's life away instead of calling the vet.

Anyhoo, ya really don't know how often to clean them until you check them out and if they need it, then you go ahead. I use a gynecological lubricant I buy from Fleet in a gallon container, I don't use soap or water, still I don't clean him in winter. I check in early spring, sometimes mid summer and late fall. However, some guys might get dirtier and they need to be cleaned more often. Its like asking how often do you need to clean your fingernails :dontknow:

Search for past threads on now to check for and clean out the bean. We've had this discussion several times over the years.

clipclop 01-10-2009 12:56 PM

Swollen sheath
This happened to a friend's gelding last winter and to mine this winter. It was painless edema, though, nothing that made either horse go off his feed or act sick in any way, so probably a different deal, but MAN did he get swollen! It looked like he grew testicles....except in the wrong spot. It was the sheath right around the urethra. Softball sized. He didn't fuss when I felt around on it, so it wasn't sore, just hanging there wobbling back and forth. Also, he had a tiny bit of edema in his rear pasterns, barely noticeable.

But in both cases it was determined to be edema from inactivity, so I made a point of getting him some exercise, despite the horrible cold weather, just walking him around when it was icy, and turning him out to play in the pasture when it was better footing. It started to go down immediately with exercise and was back to normal after three days.

So, it can be something as simple as inactivity.

Kelpie 01-11-2009 09:28 AM


Originally Posted by Korven Kuningas (Post 1481915)
I know I'm bad, but I've not yet cleaned my geldings' sheaths. I just got one of my geldings this past Monday, but I've had the other for about two years. I suppose I'll have to do that dirty job this spring. :pale:

if you have the extra cash, and really feel uncomfortable cleaning the sheath, most vets will do it for you. just a thought.

dimpleflirt 01-11-2009 02:43 PM

Glad your horse is doing better. But while on the subject I've owned many horses for over these 11yrs ,mainly geldings and have never seen a bean.What do they look like?
I've always washed the horses penis with the betadine shampoo and a wash rag to get off the flaky skin or what ever those flakes are,and put olive oil on it if it looked dry.A couple of times I've felt up in the sheath but have never in my life seen a "bEAN" or dirt of any kind.I'm embarrassed now,:o but what do they look like? Is it just a term for yucky clump of something?:o

Korven Kuningas 01-11-2009 09:25 PM

Since the thread was revived, I'll just put out that my friend's gelding's sheath is still swollen. She said she was going to call the vet back out, but I think like someone else mentioned, it's from lack of exercise. She doesn't ride much and when she does it's not him because he has back issues.

And I can't say that I've ever seen a bean for myself.

Roewyn 01-11-2009 09:45 PM

"Beans" are dirt/debris deposits that get stuck inside little pouches of skin inside the head of the penis.

You simply roll back the skin as far as you can - to the outside - while he's relaxed, and you'll see the "beans" in the pockets; they're not on the urethra... they're at the junction between the skin and there. You dont have to force it either.

You just get some nice, gentle soap (like Ivory... thats what I always use), and wash 'em out.

Gross, but clean! lol

Korven Kuningas 01-11-2009 09:51 PM

Oh, you make me so excited for my first spring sheath cleaning.


Roewyn 01-11-2009 10:12 PM

lol... did i mention, make sure you wear a shirt you dont mind throwing away?


dimpleflirt 01-11-2009 10:19 PM

She may need to have the vet keep an eye on it.I've seen a swollen sheath before after a castration and other health issues on other people's horses but not due to lack of exercise.
Its embarrassing cleaning the horse at times and even more embarrassing:o telling people that just bought one of your horses that the cleaning needs to be done and kept up on a regular basis.OH the looks I have gotten! Some folks go the horses whole life with out cleaning them.

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