THE EQUINE HYGIENIST

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TREATMENTS

For Geldings, Stallions & Mares

THE EQUINE  HYGIENIST

About me and the service I provide

THE HYGIENE HUB

Everything you need to know about sheath cleaning, mare hygiene & beans

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ABOUT EQUINE HYGIENISTS

What is an Equine Hygienist?
&
How to choose the right professional for your horse

 
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THE HYGIENE HUB

 

THE IMPORTANCE OF SHEATH CLEANING

  • 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 DOES THE HEALTH CHECK INVOLVE?

Once the sheath and penis has been thoroughly cleaned and flushed the skin should feel soft and smooth.  At this point I check the sheath, penis, udders,vulva, dock and between hind legs  for any lumps, bumps, swelling, lesions, discharge or an unusual foul odor. 


A reputable hygienist will provide you with a report of any abnormalities found, however minor, for you to discuss with your vet.

Note: By law, an Equine Hygienist can not diagnose or recommend treatment for any medical condition. 

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 MALE 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.

HOW BIG DO BEANS GET?

It varies.  They can be anything from finger nail to golf ball in terms of size.  The image above illustrates typical beans compared to a £1 coin

Mare beans are much smaller, roughly the size of a pumpkin seed but they can still cause considerable irritation. 

WHY ARE BEANS DIFFERENT COLOURS?

Horses with pink penile skin produce white / creamish colored beans.  Pink skinned horses can also produce a reddish smegma

Horses with black penile skin produce a grey / black coloured beans and smegma

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS IF MY HORSE HAS A BEAN OR NEEDS A HYGIENE 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

FROM WHAT AGE SHOULD MY HORSE BE SHEATH CLEANED?

From 4 years old is generally a good age to start.

HOW FREQUENTLY DO HORSES NEED HYGIENE CLEANING?

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.

WILD HORSES DON'T NEED SHEATH CLEANING SO WHY DOES MINE?

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.

WHAT PRODUCTS ARE SAFE TO USE?

Many sheath cleaning products on the market contain chemicals and ingredients that can cause irritation, dryness, allergic reactions and upset the natural flora / bacterial balance in your horses sheath.


Never use baby oil as it attracts dirt, which will only make your horses sheath more gunky and cause irritation. 


Many sheath cleaning products also contain tea tree oil.  As well as being an irritant it will also strip the sheath of it natural bacteria.


Never use anything more than a water based lubricant (such as KY Jelly) and warm water. The rule of thumb is DON'T put anything in your horse that you would put in yourself.

CAN I RIDE MY HORSE AFTER?

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

MY HORSE IS SHY & WON'T DROP HIS WILLY 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.

DO YOU TREAT MINIATURES & SHELTANDS?

Yes.  Many equine hygienist don't treat minis as going from the sheath pouch to the upper sheath chamber is tight and can be uncomfortable for the pony, but I have small hands so can do this by going very gently and carefully

This image including a bean is what I removed from a Shetland recently.  I'm not even sure how he was even able to urinate as the penile crust encased the head of the penis.  This goes to show that all equines, no matter how small require regular hygiene cleans

TREATMENTS

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SHEATH CLEANING & BEAN REMOVAL

30 min | £25

  • Sheath, penis & dock cleaned using a gentle water based lubricant

  • Area thoroughly flushed using warm water. 

  • Checked for beans and removed if there are any

  • Massage pad

  • Health Check

  • Report provided of any abnormalities for you to discuss with your vet

  • Free treatment or discount for Yard Organisers

MARE HYGIENE CLEANSE
& BEAN REMOVAL

30 min | £25

  • Udders, between hind legs, dock  and vulva cleaned

  • Area thoroughly flushed using warm water. 

  • Checked for beans and removed if there are any

  • Massage pad

  • Health Check

  • Report provided of any abnormalities for you to discuss with your vet

  • Free treatment or discount for Yard Organisers

 
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THE EQUINE HYGIENIST
@ THE HORSEBOX SPA

 

MY BACKGROUND & EXPERIENCE

My names Allie and I'm the founder of The Horsebox Spa.  I'm BHS stage 3 qualified and I've been a horse owner for over 30 years and have always sheath cleaned my own horses. 


I started offering hygiene cleaning as a spa and wellbeing service early in 2020 when my friend, unsure how to do it asked me if I would sheath clean her 11 year old gelding.  As soon as I started I knew there was a problem. Enormous lumps in his sheath pouch made it difficult to get my hand inside.  I referred her to her vet and the next day when the vet came to check him out, he confirmed he had melanomas that needed to be urgently removed. Unfortunately his cancer was quite advanced and he underwent sheath and half penis amputation.  But it was caught early enough at least which saved him from being PTS.  After that I was inundated with requests from friends and their friends to sheath their horses.

One of my friends owns a riding school which enabled me to perfect my bean removal technique treating a variety of different horses.  Since then I've literally treated 100's of horses

5 STAR REVIEWS

I have a 5 Star review rating. You can check out all my Facebook reviews @TheHorseboxSpa

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

INSURANCE

The Horsebox Spa provides a fully insured service for your protection and peace of mind:

  • Care Custody & Control to £20k

  • Third Party Liability to £5m

HYGIENE, BIO SECURITY & COVID

BIO SECURITY

  • New gloves per horse

  • New sponge per horse

  • All equipment is sterilized at the end of each day with Viron S, a long lasting, DEFRA approved, government grade disinfectant

HYGIENE PRACTICES​

The step by step process I follow for each hygiene clean mitigates the risk of infection.

  • The sheath pouch is cleaned first to prevent grime being pushed higher up. 

  • Because of proximity to the urethra, I check for and remove beans last, having flushed the sheath chamber with warm water and cleaned or changed gloves  


COVID

  • Please can the person holding the horse wear a mask regardless of whether treatment is done in a stable, an american barn or outside.  

WHAT CAN I EXPECT FROM THE HORSEBOX SPA SHEATH CLEAN?

  • I start by taking a brief history so I know whats normal for your horse (age, medical conditions, any symptoms, if cleaned before, any beans found etc)

  • Place massage pad on your horse to relax and distract them from what I'm doing

  • I only ever use a water based lube, warm water, a new sponge.  I bring my own hot water and equipment.  

  • I clean the sheath pouch first as this is generally the grottiest area.  This is to prevent grime being pushed further up. Next I clean the penis.  I then clean or change my gloves to check for beans and remove beans last (given proximity to the urethra, this is to mitigate the risk of infection). 

  • Next I flush the sheath with 2-3 litres of warm water.  The warm water is for their comfort and is less of a shock, especially in winter

  • Lastly, I health check all areas.  If any abnormalities are found I will provide you with a report for you to discuss with your vet

  • In total the treatment takes approx 30mins. 

WHAT CAN I EXPECT FROM THE HORSEBOX SPA MARE HYGIENE CLEAN?

  • Similar process to the sheath clean but I put a tail bandage on the mares to keep the tail tidy and out the way.

  • I start with the udders using lube to gently remove dirt and crust

  • Next I clean between the hind legs as dirt and smegma also build up there.

  • I then move around to the dock and vulva region removing poo residue, dirt and smegma.  Around the outer folds of the vulva I use hypoallergenic baby wipes to clean between the crevasses.

  • Lastly once the area has been thoroughly cleaned, I change my gloves and check for beans in and round the clitoris.

  • As mare beans are quite small and the area is fleshy its not always obvious if there's a bean.  It can take a few minutes of gentle manipulation before they surface high enough to be massaged out.

  • Lastly, I health check all areas.  If any abnormalities are found I will provide you with a report for you to discuss with your vet

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CHOOSING THE RIGHT PROFESSIONAL FOR YOUR HORSE

 

WHAT IS AN EQUINE HYGIENIST?

An Equine Hygienist cleans, health checks and removes beans from equines intimate areas (sheath, penis, udders, vulva and clitoris)

WHAT INSURANCE DO EQUINE HYGIENIST NEED?

For your protection, as a minimum an equine hygienist should have full liability insurance:

  • Care, Custody & Control

  • Third Party Liability

WHAT'S THE LEGAL REMIT OF AN EQUINE HYGIENIST?

The Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 was put in place to regulate the treatment of animals. Only veterinary surgeons may legally diagnose, prescribe, advise on the basis of a diagnosis.


An Equine Hygienist can not diagnose or recommend treatment for any medical condition be it an infection, thrush, warts and cancers etc.  If they do, should anything go wrong you will have no protection (insurance or law).  A reputable hygienist will provide you with a report of any abnormalities found, however minor, for you to discuss with your vet.

WHAT TRAINING & QUALIFICATIONS DO YOU NEED TO BE AN EQUINE HYGIENIST?

Unless you're a vet (and you don't need to be a vet to sheath clean), there is no formal qualification or training in sheath cleaning.  Most Equine Hygienists are experienced equestrians who have self trained, have a good knowledge of equine anatomy and apply stringent hygiene and bio security practices to their work.

Given there's very little in the way of industry standards its vital you choose your equine hygienist carefully:

  • Check out their social media reviews

  • Whats their background & experience? 

  • What insurance cover do they have?

  • What are their hygiene practices and bio security procedures?

  • Do the they 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

Allie: 07830 904854

Ticehurst, East Sussex

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