16yr old pony and cushings disease - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 02-10-2010, 03:12 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Cork, Ireland
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16yr old pony and cushings disease

Ok, firstly, i'm new here, so hi everyone!

And also, very sorry for such a long post!

Right, so my pony is now 16 years old. I don't ride her very much anymore, and when i do it is light riding, due to a leg injury she recieived a few years ago where her tendon ripped off her hock (the vet said it was a possibilty she would never be able to be ridden again, but she recovered a lot better than thought she would!)

Now I've had her since she was seven, so a good few years, and i've noticed that in the last few years (maybe even since her injury ie. 4 years ago), her winter coat has become thicker and she doesnt lose it all in the summer. Now, it is a wee bit curly by her neck and her legs. So the first thing that really pops into my mind is cushings...however, when i look at photos of cushings horses, her coat is nowhere near as long or as curly, and she does not look so dull and unhealthy as many can.

Also, last summer she got a case of laminitis, which I read can be associated with cushings...it was identified quickly and we quickly put a muzzle on her to prevent it, and although the muzzle has taken some damage, it worked . There is still a bit of bruising in her hooves, but she's completely sound and happy, and I know it takes a good while to comepletely eradicate, if ever it can be. Now, there's also the explanation that, she hadnt been worked because of lameness from fooling around in the field and with the exceptionally rich grass from the tons of rain we get here, turned her into a huge whale. I have heard cushings ponies may find it hard to keep on weight, which she has no problem in the world doing.

Thirdly! The end of last summer, she got a very bad case of drop, and is still in stables because of that, but she's all fixed up now, has been on hoof supplements for the last few months -cornicrescent feed additive and also the hoof conditioner. Now...I've heard drop and abcesses in general may be from a weakened immune system from cushings, but her hooves are white, and therefore not as strong, and she has got drop a few times in the past, plus, it was seemingly a terrible year for drop from the awful weather we had.

So basically, I'm wondering, is it usual for ponies who are getting older and are not being worked hard, to retain more hair in the summer? I do plan on asking the vet for a blood test next time he's out, but, til then, may as well put it out there.
Lunachick is offline  
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post #2 of 5 Old 02-10-2010, 03:36 PM
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Lancashire
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my arab/welsh horse started out with a slightly curley coat and now he's on pergolide. The vets don't have to do the test which is really expensive and you can get the perscription from the vet and then get the tablets from the chemist and they are really cheap now because of generic drugs made in India. Without the drugs they go downhill fast and can get hyperlypaemia, arthritus, sores which won't heal etc. Mine's quite happy it at the moment.
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post #3 of 5 Old 02-10-2010, 04:30 PM
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: NJ
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I have a 16 year old Quater Horse who started getting a long coat in the winter about 3 years ago. It does eventually shed out by June and looks horrible in the process. I had him checked for Cushings 3 times with negative results. He has no other signs of Cushings but it seemed the obvious reason.
His red cell count was very low at first and we put him on red cell supplement which helped but his coat kept comming back in the winter. This spring we found he was full of worms. The barn had wormed regularly but I think the care had been going down hill since the owner passed away, so who knows if it was being done correctly. He was not the only one with worms. I did read in one book (only one) that worms can cause a coat problem.
Anyway, this winter he still has a very thick coat but not quite as bad as it has been. Who knows if the answer is as simple at that. I have stopped trying to figure it out since he is healthy otherwise. I am now taking a more hands on approach to his care and not trusting that the barn is perfect.
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post #4 of 5 Old 02-10-2010, 04:47 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Cork, Ireland
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Thanks for the replies.

I don't really want to start her on any medication without actually being confident she has it or not.

I am worming her tomorrow, so hopefully this will help. Worming was always up to the owner of the stables where I used keep her, so really, who knows if she had been getting them. The red cell count is something I must get checked out. She is happy and healthy other than this, so I hope it's only something minor.
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post #5 of 5 Old 02-10-2010, 08:49 PM
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I think you are very smart for not wanting to medicate a horse who has not actually been diagnosed with a metabolic disorder. If she does have a problem, though, it is very important for her to be treated. Something that is not uncommon in ponies which fits the problems you're describing is called "Equine Metabolic Syndrome". Do a google search on that and "insulin resistance" and you should learn a lot. Good luck.
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