What you see. The starting point for addressing any equine health related issue is your observation.


Penis or Sheath Bean is Present


Smegma is the natural secretion of pasty material from the sheath. The word "smegma" comes from the Latin word for soap. A sheath "bean" is a hard, clay-like accumulation of smegma in the urethral fossa at the tip of the penis in geldings and stallions.

Beans usually do not cause problems, but in some cases, they grow very large and cause difficulty urinating and sheath swelling. Excessive smegma accumulation is more common in stalled horses, possibly because of lack of exercise and accumulation of shavings and stall debris in the sheath. You can feel a bean through the wall of the sheath as a hard mass at the tip of the penis. In a horse that has dropped its penis, it will be easier to see and feel.

Removing the bean is part of routine sheath cleaning, which you can do (see the related skill). However, routine veterinary inspection of this area is important because tumors and other disease of the sheath are relatively common. Also, vets often tranquilize horses before cleaning their sheath to relax the penis and make this process easier.
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    Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

your role


What To Do

your vet's role

Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • Do you plan to clean your horse's sheath, or should I?
  • Can you feel a bean?
  • How large is it?
  • Is the horse having trouble urinating?
  • Is the horse's sheath swollen?
  • What are the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE)?

further reading & resources


Helpful Terms and Topics

Written, reviewed or shared by experts in equine health

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP