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  • Full Clean / Bean Removal + Health Check

  • British Equine Hygienists Association (BEHA) Registered  / Approved 

  • Fully Insured

  • CDP Trained in sheath health and penile diseases

  • Use warm warm and a water-based lube only

  • Robust Bio Security + Hygienic Processes

  • 1000's of Horses Treated

  • Professional | Knowledgeable | Hygienic |    Caring + Patient Service

  • £30 | 20mins

CPD Trained by one of the UKs most respected vets, Professor Derek Knottenbelt OBE, BVM&S, DVMS, DipECEIM, MRCVS on 'Equine Reproductive Organ Health':

  • Anatomy (Stallion, Gelding, Mare)

  • Signs of Penile Disease

  • Bacterial, Viral, Parasitic, Fungal infections

  • Carcinomas, Melanomas, Sarcoids

  • Congenital Abnormalities & Trauma Injuries

  • The Role & Responsibilities of a Hygienist

  • Maintaining a Healthy Sheath

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BRITISH EQUINE HYGIENISTS ASSOCIATION (BEHA) Guide to Choosing a Reputable Sheath Cleaner 

ABOUT ME

BEHA Registered Sheath Cleaner & Mare Hygienist and BEHAs' Ambassador for the South East of England.   The British Equine Hygienists Association (BEHA) is leading industry reforms around this service, working closely with vets and horse owners to protect horse welfare by setting industry standards and best practice.   BEHA aims to stand out as the UK's best and most trustworthy team of stallion, gelding and mare hygienists within the equine industry. 

I'm a passionate equestrian of (way) over 35 years and BHS Stage 3 qualified.  In 2018 I founded The Horsebox Spa, a mobile equine spa studio - an industry first!

In 2020 during a routine sheath clean on a friends horse, I found a mass (later diagnosed by a vet as melanomas) )resulting in him having a sheath and part penis amputation (3 years on, he's healthy and coping so well!).  Horse & Hound picked up on his story and I was inundated with requests from clients to treat their horses.  

I decided if I could help improve the comfort or spot abnormalites that may help save the life of just one horse, then sheath cleaning was a treatment I wanted to offer. I'm professional, knowledgeable, calm and happy to work with even the most tricky or anxious horses, allowing each horse the time they need, treating every horse with the same love and care as my own.

 

My hygiene treatments are 5*.  I work to uncompromisingly high biosecurity and hygiene standards.  I'm CPD trained in 'Equine Reproductive Organ Health' by Prof. Derek Knottenbelt OBE, BVM&S, DVMS, DipECEIM, MRCVS.  That, plus my passion for horses, and experience of sheath cleaning 1000's of horses is what makes me BEHA's chosen hygienist to represent the South East of England.

I am committed  to education and the importance of hygiene for every horses health, comfort and performance; and alongside BEHA, dedicated to raising the industry standards and establishing 'Best Practice' around this service.

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BRITISH EQUINE HYGIENISTS ASSOCIATION
GUIDE TO CHOOSING A REPUTABLE SHEATH CLEANER

The sheath is an area of the horse that even the most experienced equestrians are unfamiliar with.  Lack of knowledge can make it tricky for you to know if your sheath cleaner is reputable or not.   This guide sets out Good        and Bad        practice.    Working together with vets and horse owners, BEHA is leading industry reforms to safeguard your horses’ health and welfare.

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A REPUTABLE SHEATH CLEANER

Takes time before starting treatment to ask questions about your horses’ sheath health & hygiene history and any behavioural changes you may have observed.

They will ensure your horse is comfortable and relaxed about being touched in that area before starting treatment.

  • Practises good biosecurity & hygiene. Each horse has a:

New sponge / cloth

New set of gloves

Single use syringe

Single use tail bandage (Mares)

Fresh / clean water

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  • Uses a gentle water-based lube only so as not to cause irritation or alter the flora balance of the sheath.

  • No other products should be used inside the sheath.

  • Flushes thoroughly after using water only.

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BEHA HYGIENISTS ARE

  • Trained in ‘Equine Reproductive Organ Health’ by Prof Derek Knottenbelt OBE, BVM&S, DVM&S, DipECEIM, MRCVS.

  • Attend regular CPD training.

  • Fully Insured

  • Professional, Knowledgeable & Experienced Equestrians.

  • Registered & Reputable Businesses.

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£25 - £30  PRICE CAN BE AN INDICATOR 

  • A reputable sheath cleaner provides excellent value for money. Hygienists are often the first to pick up on heath abnormalities, with an average 1 in 10 horses being referred to vet.

  • They are professional businesses with associated operating costs. They are in high demand and their price is a reflection of their experience, training and professional service you should expect.

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BELOW £25  PRICE CAN BE AN INDICATOR 

  • Are they cutting costs by reusing items such as gloves and sponges? Or not using any at all?

  • Are they insured?

  • A less reputable sheath cleaner may try to gain work by enticing yards with cheap group deals.

  • A less reputable sheath cleaner may cost you more if things go wrong. For example, as a result of poor hygiene (reusing gloves / sponges), by using unsafe sheath products or by working uninsured.

BEWARE OF SHEATH CLEANERS WHO PUT YOUR HORSES HEALTH AT RISK OF CROSS CONTAMINATION, VIRUSES, VENEREAL DISEASES AND INFECTIONS BY:

  • Using the same gloves between horses.

  • Not using gloves.

  • Using the same sponge between horses.

  • Not changing water between horses.

  • Allowing your horse to use a distraction lick that they provide, used by other horses on other yards. THINK Strangles & viruses!

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UNSAFE SHEATH PRODUCTS

  • Chemicals such as IODINE & HIBISCRUB should not be used for cleaning or rinsing. They are disinfectants and will destroy the microbiome within the sheath.

  • Check product ingredients and avoid those containing Chlorhexidine, an antiseptic also found in some water-based lubes.

  • OILS  leave a tacky residue that sweat, dead skin and smegma sticks to, making your horse more dirty. Water alone won’t wash it off. Washing with soap will alter the flora balance of the sheath.

  • Many shop bought sheath cleaning products are oil based and some even contain tea tree oil. Tea tree oil is an antiseptic which can alter the microbiome balance of the sheath.

  • AQUEOUS CREAM should never be applied to the penis or inside the sheath. It contains sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) which can cause skin irritation such as burning, stinging and itching.

  • The penis is lubricated by naturally produced smegma. Moisturising it with a cream is dangerous and unnecessary.  

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VETERINARY SURGEONS ACT 1966   (19. Treatment of animals by unqualified persons)

  • Only veterinary surgeons may legally diagnose, prescribe, advise on the basis of a diagnosis.

  • A reputable sheath cleaner will provide you with a report of any health abnormalities found for you to discuss with your vet.  

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THE RISKS OF FOLLOWING UNQUALFIED ADVICE

  • A sheath cleaner who diagnoses a condition and gives treatment advice is NOT saving you money by excluding your vet.

  • As an unqualified person they are breaking the law and therefore not insured. That means you’ll have no protection to claim against their insurance if things go wrong. 

  • Always speak to your vet if you are informed of any abnormalities.

  • Owner distressed about a condition that may not even exist.

  • Unnecessary / dangerous treatment advice given.

  • Horse doesn’t receive the appropriate veterinary treatment they may need.

  • Unable to claim against the sheath cleaners insurance if things go wrong.

Example: THRUSH

  • Beware of anyone who is not a vet who diagnoses Thrush of the sheath and who recommends yogurt inside the sheath as a DIY home treatment.

  • Thrush of the sheath is not common. Only a vet can diagnose if your horse does in fact have an infection, and if so, if it’s bacterial, fungal or underlying pathology (they can look similar).

  • Typically your vet will take a swab to culture should they suspect an infection in order to determine the type.

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When a horse gets hot, they sweat, the smegma becomes sticky and smells more pungent. You may even notice smegma on their hind legs or around their navel. This is completely normal and in the majority of cases, unlikely to be thrush / bacterial infection.

 

If your horse does however have a infection, yogurt applied inside the sheath could cause your horse serious harm by providing an environment for bad bacteria to thrive.

 

If your horse has another underlying pathology, this could go undiagnosed. A reputable sheath cleaner will ALWAYS refer you to your vet if they have any concerns.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

DO YOU ENJOY YOUR JOB?
Funnily enough, I get asked this a lot! Usually followed by a muffled snigger ...But yes, I really do.  I find it incredibly rewarding.  Its the one treatment that has the biggest impact on a horses wellbeing and can even life changing for them

WHAT TRAINING & QUALIFICATIONS DO YOU NEED TO BE A HYGIENIST?

There are no professional qualifications in sheath cleaning.  Its therefore very important that you choose your hygienist carefully.   The Association of British Equine Hygienists can put you in touch with a reputable hygienist in your area.  BEHA Hygienists attend regular training and have been CPD trained by one of the UK's most respected vets in 'Equine Reproductive Organ Health' by Prof. Derek Knottenbelt OBE, BVM&S, DVMS, DipECEIM, MRCVS. 

BEHA Hygienists are:

  • Trained by vets

  • Fully Insured

  • Knowledgeable & experienced

  • Comply with robust biosecurity an hygiene practices

  • Understand the law around treating animals and comply with the The Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966? 

  • If in any doubt or where a reputable hygienist doesn't cover your area, please consult your vet

​WHY IS SHEATH CLEANING IMPORTANT?

  • Male domestic horses can not self clean as they do in the wild so its important for their comfort and welfare that horse owners take responsibility for their hygiene care

  • To remove beans before they get too large, uncomfortable to remove and before they cause issues with urinating

  • Smegma build up on the penis and in the sheath can cause discomfort, swelling and sometimes infection making it uncomfortable for the horse to drop his penis to urinate.   

  • A dirty / smelly sheath, can attract flies and cause Flystrike (maggots)

  • Lesions caused by squamous cell carcinoma can also lead to flystrike

  • ​Smegma build up is widely recognized by vets as a potential carcinogen (cause of penile cancer)

  • Only once the sheath and penis is fully cleaned is it possible to health check.  Penile cancers are not uncommon so its important your horse is checked regularly for any abnormalities

WHAT IS A BEAN?

Beans are a build up of dirt, dust, grime, urine, sweat, dead skin cells that mix with smegma. They're found in the tip of the penis that collect in a pocket called the urethral fossa next to the urethra.

 

Over time as more smegma collects it becomes larger, hardens and compacts creating a hard clay like bean which can place pressure on the urethra and cause pain and issues urinating.

 

Beans are not easily visible unless you know what to look and feel for so its important you have your horses checked annually by a professional sheath cleaner or your vet and from a young age so they remain small and easy to remove. If left, large beans can be uncomfortable to remove and your horse may need sedating.

DO ALL HORSES GET BEANS?

No, its very much down to age, breed, a horses individual biology, their environment and any underlying heath conditions. In my experience approx 75% do, 25% don't.

DO MARES GET BEANS?

Yes. Mares get beans in and around their clitoris. They're not comparable to boy beans in terms of size but can still cause considerable discomfort manifesting in symptoms similar to pin worm and tail rubbing. As with the boys, not all mares get beans but most do.

WHY ARE SOME BEANS GREY AND OTHERS WHITE / CREAM?

Horses with pink penile skin produce white / creamish coloured beans.  Pink skinned horses can also produce a reddish smegma.  Horses with black penile skin produce a grey / black coloured beans and smegma

HOW BIG DO BEANS GET?

It varies.  They can be anything from finger nail to golf ball in terms of size.   Mare beans are much smaller, roughly the size of a pumpkin seed but they can still cause considerable irritation. 

WHATS SIGNS WILL BE HORSE DISPLAY IF THEY HAVE A BEAN OR NEED A CLEAN?

Not all horses who have beans show physical or behavioural symptoms.  Some are stoic in hiding their discomfort, others may have had them so long, they've just learnt to live with it.  Whats more, because they are inside the head of the penis, you wont be able to see it so its quite likely your horse may have one without you being aware. 

Male Horse Symptoms:

  • Not dropping penis to urinate

  • A spray urine stream - as the bean gets larger it places pressure on the urethra 

  • Straining to urinate (Stop-starting)

  • Swollen sheath and or painful sheath

  • Colicky symptoms 

  • Usually mild mannered change to grouchy behaviour from constant pain and discomfort

  • Disunited in canter or difficulty transitioning.

Mare Symptoms​:

  • Tail rubbing (similar to pin worm symptoms)

  • Sensitivity around udders

  • Grouchy behaviour

HOW OFTEN DO HORSES NEED A HYGIENE CLEAN?

It varies. Every horse is different. Frequency depends on how much smegma your horse produces. Every 6-12 months for a full clean, bean and health check, just as you would with teeth and vacs.

WHAT IS A GOOD AGE TO START HYGIENE CLEANS?

From 2 years old is generally a good age to start.

WILD HORSES ARENT SHEATH CLEANED SO WHY DOES MINE NEED TO BE?

Ok... So you wont find many wild geldings. That's the first point . As soon as you domesticate a horse by castrating (so no longer using their penis as nature intended) and placing them in a domestic environment (stabling with dusty bedding, riding in sandy arenas etc) then you then need to take responsibility for their hygiene care as they can not self clean in the same way they do in the wild.

MY HORSE IS SHY AND WONT DROP HIS PENIS TO BE CLEANED

Not surprisingly very few horses drop during sheath cleaning and a  hygienist doesn't need them to. In fact its much easier (and fewer blushes) if they don't. We can fully clean , health check and remove beans whilst its tucked up inside.

CAN I RIDE MY HORSE AFTER A HYGIENE CLEAN?

Yes absolutely!  They will immediately feel so much better and you should even see an improvement in their movement and way of going

Sally Rose

Such a professional! Allie explained everything she was doing & why her service is so important.

She took her time to make each horse comfortable & relaxed, never rushing them.

We had originally booked our gelding’s in, but Allie did my mare too. Boy am I glad she did. With no signs of discomfort displayed, Allie found 4 large beans in our mare !! We will all be using Allie’s service again 

Melanie Crouch

Fabulous visit today for the 4 boys to have a sheath clean. Learned loads about sheaths I didn’t know after 40 years of owning horses Thoroughly recommend - knowledgeable, insured, educates along the way and horses much more comfortable tonight.

Anna Vallone

​Highly recommended. Allie is fantastic, it was a pleasure to have met her. So knowledgeable and excellent with horses. I shall be making regular bookings, my gelding benefitted massively from the visit.

Lisa Felstead

Allie came to give our lovely boys, Bosco and Freckles, their first ever hygiene clean today and she was amazing! She treated both boys so quietly and gently and they immediately relaxed into their treatments. Allie is so knowledgeable and interesting and it was a great experience for both our horses and for us as their owners. 

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