Hello! I'm new to this forum and I'm looking forward to having a place to go for multiple opinions and experiences!
My horse is an aged Morgan mare named Lizzie. I don't know her age, but based on opinions from vets, farriers, dentists and many horse people, I'm guessing she's in her mid to upper 30's. For her age, Liz is in great shape. I still ride her a couple of times a week, on the trails and in the ring. She loves having a job and both the vet and farrier told me to keep riding her as long as possible. She certainly needs the exercise- she's the most hyper horse I've ever ridden!
Liz does have some health concerns, though. I suppose that's expected with a horse her age! Lizzie has a benign tumor about 6 inches below her withers and a couple of inches towards her rump, exactly where the front panels of a saddle sit. Because of this, I've been riding her exclusively bareback for about 3 years. The tumor was removed once and grew back within 6 months. She's old and the tumor doesn't bother her unless she has a saddle on, so I've decided to let it be and just monitor its growth. Liz also has Cushings, which is managed with Pergolide and diet.
I apologize for not knowing the weight of her food, I know that's the most accurate way to measure diet. She gets 2 quarts of Blue Seal Sentinel Senior feed morning and night. Liz also gets about 5 small flakes of hay a day (again, sorry about not knowing the weight). For supplements, she gets Vetri-HA and pelleted MSM for her joints, along with probios and her daily dose of Pergolide (1.5 mg). She does extremely well on Pergolide, it made all the difference for us!
The barn that Liz was at until this September left a lot to be desired. The quality of hay and grain was not good and I was too naive to realize that the hay was the big problem. As a result of the hay and her refusal to eat the grain (picky about supplements), she lost nearly 100 pounds a couple of years ago. She gained back about 50, but wasn't eating all of her grain or much hay. I moved her to a great barn in September and she's done great, now that the hay and grain quality is better! I would guess she's gained about another 50 pounds. I actually just had to cut back her grain because I couldn't feel her ribs at all! I think that's about it for background... I know it's a little long winded!
Now for my questions! Liz has once again gotten picky about eating her grain and supplements. She now refuses anything powdered and will turn up her nose at al her grain if there's a powder she objects to. I managed to find her supplements in pellet form, but she's still not crazy about them. Lizzie tends to eat almost all of her grain, leaving behind about half a quart and most of her supplements. She does pick at it throughout the day and seems to clean up most of it. Does anyone have any suggestions for keeping her interested in her grain? Keep in mind that she has Cushings, although she's not very sensitive, so the barn owner, with my permission, occasionally throws in a couple of handfuls of a sweeter feed (Dynasty Pro). Liz also doesn't finish all of her hay, but she eats most of it. She's a pain about eating properly, but she hasn't dropped weight again, so I guess she's ok.
About 3 weeks ago she started quidding her hay. It wasn't severe, just 3 or 4 golf ball sized balls per flake, so she was getting most of it. I had the dentist out Friday (12/21) and he didn't see much cause for concern. She had just been seen about 7 months ago and hasn't needed attention more than annually before. The dentist took care of a couple of small points and told me that those could have been attributing to the quidding if she was being sensitive. Since the dentist came, the quidding has improved, now just 1 or 2 balls per flake. I'm confused though... what could be the cause of quidding if it's not her teeth?
Another question I have is about treats for her. As I said, she's not very sensitive to sugars, but of course, I don't want to push it. I did get some of Skode's horse treats for her, but that's not something I can afford regularly. Liz loves her treats and does about 5 tricks with a tasty reward at the end! What suggestions do you have for treats for a horse with Cushings?
Last question (for now, anyways)! We do a lot of trail riding and cross through a river to get to the best trails. The water goes up to her knees or just above. Living in New England, the weather is starting to get cold. Liz has a great winter coat, but I want to keep her healthy! How cold is too cold to ride through the water and continue on a trail ride for another hour or more?
Thank you so much! I really appreciate anyone who took the time to read all of that! Here's a picture of my girl :)