How do I get tar/sap/smegma removed from my horse?

I know this well - you are happily grooming along and then your curry comb (or hand) gets “stuck” in some tarry/sappy/smegma-y grossness.  Or, you just happen to see a goopy black blob on your gelding’s hind leg. 



A few smegma blobs.  Time for a sheath cleaning! 


How on earth do you get rid of it?

Lots of options - some are awesome, some I have not tried, some I wouldn’t try EVER.  Butter and mayo may work for lots of people and sticky horses but I can't get past the smell....ew...  



Raid your kitchen for sticky stuff removal tools. 


So because tar/sap/smegma are different, you may have to experiment with what works.  Generally speaking, adding oil is a good idea.  You have lots of oily options, you may have to let it soak a bit (minutes or hours) and then remove.  Any oily residue may be a dirt magnet, so be prepared to groom that away, too.  Shampoo is a good bet, you probably only need to do a spot treatment. 



  • Rubbing alcohol or alcohol based hand sanitizer. This may not work so well, as the alcohol evaporates quickly.  It will also sting to high heaven if there are any open cuts or scrapes. Probably best for small areas.  


  • Baby oil.  A bit slimy, but sticky enough to stay put.  Probably will need a spot shampoo. 




  • Mayo/peanut butter/regular butter. These kitchen oils work because they have oil, but you will likely need to let them “cook” for a while (maybe hours).  I personally can’t get past mayo in general, but it may work for you. 


  • M-T-G works well, too, as it’s oil based.  Remember to use the bacon-y smelling oil at night.  Just like the baby oil, you may need to shampoo the next day. 


  • Mechanic’s grease remover.  This goopy stuff can take just about anything goopy and sticky from your hands and your horse. Some folks also use WD40, I steer clear of that as the ingredients are "secret".  True story.   For more on the perils of WD40, read this article. There are lots of hand grease removal goops out there, read the label and find one that has agreeable ingredients.  



Found this hand cleaner in the garage, nice orange scent and nothing weird or chemical-y in the ingredients. 


  • You can also clip the hair off.  This could be tricky, and you may end up gumming up your clipper blades. 


What do you use?