Cushings - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 03-03-2014, 11:36 AM Thread Starter
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My horse had a ACTH test in september and the results came back slightly elevated like the normal is 10 and he was 11.2. The reason they tested him was because he foundered after being ran around a hard dry lot for 3 hours by a yearling stud colt. He has a very thin sole and we didn't have shoes on him at the time, because he was doing fine, and they removed the colt from my horses turn out. So about a month or so after they tested him and his results came back as 11.2. So i put him on prascend and he is getting i think its 1mg a day, or whatever one pill is. We just retested him and he is at 7 now. My question is, i know that stress can evelvate their ACTH levels, and my horse doesn't really have any other symptoms of cushings. Well he does sort of, but nothing has changed in the last 10 years i've had him. He is 23 yr old saddlebred. About 6 years ago we noticed he had a swelling in his throat and had the vet come out and he has a tumor on his thyroid which grows slowly. When the vet was out 6 years ago i expressed concern that he had cushings then, because his coat is weird. Its not long and curly, but he doesn't get a thick winter coat and he never fully sheds in the summer. So 6 years ago i wanted to get him tested, and actually had 3 different vet offices come out and none of them wanted to test him, because they said its just the way he is... NOW that he is 23 they are saying that its cushings. Which is what ive been saying for 6 years... I know not all horses have the same symptoms, but i'm just curious if he was really stressed out, which he was during the test could that have made his levels slightly elevated?
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post #2 of 5 Old 03-03-2014, 11:41 AM
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I can't answer your question but I will offer this. I had a dog who I thought had cushings and had all the symptoms but the vet said he didn't and wouldn't run a full thyroid. Lo and behold when the vet finially did agree his levels were really out of whack... So I think it is good to trust your instincts on these things. I don't know about horses but in dogs the symptoms can be very irregular from one dog to another and like you said horses are the same way.

The only way to know if it was the stress that caused the elevated levels would be to do another control test when he is calm and then another test when he is stressed and then compare the results.

Edit: I just wanted to add I love saddlebreds I want one sooo bad but they practically don't exist where I live.

Angus (Gus) - 18yr Pinto (Est. 2013)
Now we're seeing spots! Winsome Warrior - 4.5yr Appy (Est. 2016)
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post #3 of 5 Old 03-03-2014, 12:03 PM Thread Starter
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Awe thanks! He isn't stressed out now, and i wish i had just waited till we had got our own place to have him tested. This vet doesn't believe that the thyroid has anything to do with anything. His thyroid function is like almost zero. I tried to attach a picture of him from last winter before the meds and diagnosed cushings.

Awe i wish you could have one they are amazing!! We just rescued a 2 yr old, and he isn't registered, but he is going to be my all around guy! This guy was too, but i decided to retire him, and i'm not sure he is happy about that. He loves to show and be ridden he gets sad when he isn't. I just am scared to ride him now that he has foundered.
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post #4 of 5 Old 03-04-2014, 10:44 PM
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Originally Posted by saddleseat234 View Post
My question is, i know that stress can evelvate their ACTH levels,
Absolutely, it seems mostly about cortisol production (Dr Bruce Nock calls Cushings 'hypercortisolism'). Stress at the time of testing can affect results. Be that mental or physical stress. But it's chronic stress, not short term acute stress, that is really bad news. Perhaps your horse has had a chronic, 'low grade' type thing & it was the stress or physical insult on weak hooves that was the 'final straw' when the colt chased him.

and my horse doesn't really have any other symptoms of cushings. Well he does sort of, but nothing has changed in the last 10 years i've had him. He is 23 yr old saddlebred. About 6 years ago we noticed he had a swelling in his throat
That's a rather contradictory bunch of statements! So... you noticed at least 6 years ago something wasn't right & there were cushings like symptoms. Haven't consulted my notes, can't recall whether cushings can cause hyperthyroidism, or it's vice versa, but I know they're related, so the tumor could have a bearing on Cushings, be it the chicken or the egg. Cushings, like 'low grade laminitis' & such, is generally something that 'creeps up' gradually & often unnoticed, may go on for many years before 'suddenly' a sign or problem is obvious enough to allow it to be 'clinically diagnosed'.

This vet doesn't believe that the thyroid has anything to do with anything.
Thyroid function has an awful lot to do with... an awful lot. Check out too, for some really good info on managing Cushings.

I just am scared to ride him now that he has foundered.
Yes, I wouldn't ride him until his feet have healed enough &/or he is well enough padded to use his feet comfortably & correctly. I wouldn't ride a recently foundered horse in shoes either. What are they for?

Comments on the pic; He has that sort of look about him that he's possibly a long-term IR horse?? He's not at all fat, but is slightly cresty & possibly they're 'fat pads' on his rump, near his tail, & he has a 'dropped' looking back. Could be due to cushings instead/as well, or could be no fat pads in reality & nothing to do with that - could be about his hooves, of which are not helping him. High heels & run forward feet could be the reason for his conformation/posture.
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post #5 of 5 Old 03-05-2014, 02:14 PM Thread Starter
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He foundered in september and hasn't had any issues since we moved into our house in october. He has a pad and a keg shoe on the front, and he is barefoot in the back. His back feet have been a battle to trim for 10 years. I had one farrier that figured out the trick to trimming him, and thanks to our barn owners at one of the barns we were at he never came back:( I have a very good farrier now that works with the vets, but he still doesn't really trim his back feet right.

The picture i posted was from March and that was his winter coat, and that has always been his winter coat since i've had him which is 10 years. I thought it was odd that he never really got fuzzy, and had mentioned to the vet when they came out for the tumor 6 years ago that his summer coat was a little thick. He said it was just the way he was. The last 7 years i've had him we struggled to keep weight on him. He was at one point so skinny it looked like he wasn't fed for a year. That picture is the first picture i have of him in 7 years where he has weight on him. He has kind of a low back i think because of poor confromation. He is cow hocked, and narrow chested, and he has always needed a wedge when i ride him.

We had him barefoot while he was at the boarding barn because he was on stall rest, and had a MASSIVE bacterial infection from the horrid footing, and nasty stalls. The footing and just plain lack of care to the barn was so bad. The last time i boarded there he had the same issue, and we even cleaned his stall twice a day. he just got shoes put on in December because with all the frozen ground and our gravel for him to walk outside he was really tender and we redid his radiographs and he has a super thin sole. He was pretty much on stall rest from september to the end of october, and when we moved him to our house he had a little dry lot. He actually did better being able to walk around a littel vs. standing in his stall. Also our vets for foundered horses put them in a wooden shoe, but since he had the horrid infection we had to leave him barefoot. As of now he is 100% sound. He runs around like a 2 year old. I don't really have anywhere to ride anyway so i'm not rushed, but he is so depressed and lights up when i get on him and just walk him around.

This medication is just so expensive and with buying a house and now it falling apart its becoming a real struggle to buy his meds. We make it work, but i just hate having him on meds when his levels weren't like crazy high, and it could have just been stress not really cushings.
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