How to remove tar, sap, or smegma from your horse!

I know this well – you are happily grooming along, and then your curry comb (or hand) gets “stuck” in some tar, sap, or smegma mess. Or, you happen to see a goopy black blob on your gelding’s hind leg.


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A few smegma blobs. It may be time for a sheath cleaning!


Remove sap, tar, and smegma with oil


  • The premise for easy removal of sticky things on your horse is adding oil or oil-based products. You can find such things in your fridge – and grooming box.


  • You have many 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 and sap and smegma are different, you may have to experiment with what works. Generally speaking, trying a few oils is a good idea. You have many oily options, you may have to let it soak a bit (minutes or hours) and then remove it. Any oily residue may be a dirt magnet, so be prepared to groom that away, too.


  • After you apply oil, you may need to shampoo that spot to remove any remaining bits of sticky substance and oily substances.


  • You may also want to try some alcohol or witch hazel-based products.


Shapley's No. 1 light oil grooming oil

This may be my favorite grooming product ever.


Or try these ideas to remove sap:


  • 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. You will probably need a spot shampoo afterward to remove the oily residue.




  • Mayo/peanut butter/regular butter. These kitchen oils work because they have oil, but you will likely need to let them “cook” on your horse for a while. I can’t get past mayo, 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. My favorite grooming oil, No. 1 Light oil, also works for removing tar and sap. Just like the baby oil, you may need to shampoo the next day if you use too much. 


  • Mechanic’s grease remover. This goopy stuff can take just about anything goopy and sticky from your hands and your horse. Incidentally, it’s not made of weird or chemical things. 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 in the ingredients.


  • You can also clip the hair off. This could be tricky, and you may gum up your clipper blades. But for truly gross messes, this might work. It’s probably best to try the clipping approach in the winter when your horse’s coat is a bit longer.


What do you use to remove sticky things from your horse?




For some grooming oils that also double to remove sticky things from horses without any extra charge to you, check these guys out. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. These links take you to my affiliate program because any commission I earn helps keep this giant boat afloat!



You can also snap up a bottle of the grooming oil I love 

Everyone’s favorite MTG for all sorts of skin issues.


Thank you!