A few questions: Cushings, river crossing, picky eater, etc - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 12-24-2012, 07:52 PM Thread Starter
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A few questions: Cushings, river crossing, picky eater, etc

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 :)

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post #2 of 8 Old 12-24-2012, 08:00 PM
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I used to give my horse carrots and apples cut into small bites. She probably quids as the stems are hard to chew with few teeth. more of a problem of no teeth when age 30. my horse got where he did not want to eat , he was euthed at age 45.He was morgan. I understand they are prone to cushings, and he was on an oat hay with alfalfa diet and sr feed and pergolide. His intestines leaked, basically his system shut down due to age. he started the not wanting to eat. I put a horse next to him and the feeder next to each other so he would think the other horse was getting his goodies, and then he would eat more. Good luck. i also gave him afat supplement that the Vet approved.
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post #3 of 8 Old 12-24-2012, 08:12 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the response! The dentist said that Liz still has all of her teeth. One of them is very slightly loose, so slightly that he recommended leaving it for a year and then seeing if was looser. Lizzie still likes to eat, she honestly just seems to get bored with what she has. She eats most of her grain, but then leaves about a fourth and picks at it throughout the day/night. Liz's hay is a timothy mix, she gets out of her mind crazy on alfalfa and it gives her diarrhea :(.

Thanks again for responding!
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post #4 of 8 Old 12-24-2012, 08:23 PM
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She's beautiful! I love the not-so-youngsters.

I also had a mare with Cushings who wasn't insulin resistant, she got fussy too. I switched her food around too. She'd eat something for a while & then quit. I finally gave up & mixed in some sweet feed, which of course she liked.
For hay she liked soft high quality alfalfa. She had all her teeth but only ate what she liked so that's what I gave her. It can be a guessing game.

Keep riding her, the water shouldn't hurt anything.

For supplements sometimes you have to resort to a syringe. It's quick & allows her to eat her food without protest.
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post #5 of 8 Old 12-24-2012, 08:31 PM
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Have you tried giving her any beet pulp with her powder supplements? It may dampen it enough to make it stick to her grains and pellets. I have IR horses and read an article to give them sugar free peppermint candy for treats or probably any flavor they like as long as it's sugar free.
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post #6 of 8 Old 12-24-2012, 09:58 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the advice! I might have to resort to switching up her feed when she gets bored like this... she likes to make me work! I was using a syringe for over a year, but I'm away at college and unable to see her every day. The BO was giving it to her, but she was giving him a hard time and with the cold weather, the supplements and applesauce were freezing.

Ponygal, I've tried to give her beet pulp... she doesn't approve. I even tried a little bit with molasses. Liz doesn't seem to like anything soaked. I've thought about the sugar free candies, but I thought I read somewhere that the artificial sweeteners used are not good for the horses either. I don't remember where I saw that, though, or if it's true.

She's a pain, but I love her!
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post #7 of 8 Old 12-25-2012, 12:46 PM
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What a precious face attached to a real beauty! I'll bet she is Lippett-bred

I have an Arab and a TWH, both in their mid-20's. Both are on the picky side but the Arab is really picky, so I agree with trying to switch things up and perhaps having to syringe the powered supplements down - lollol

However, if the supplement is granulated, like white sugar, it won't mix with the liquid in the syringe - I've learned that the wasteful way

As far as getting her to eat what goes in the feed pan, that's a tough one to figure out, since she's on Pergolide for Cushings.

I can guess the hay problem - lol lol I would bet money the hay Lizzie leaves is stemmy -- maybe not real stemmy but stemmy.

My 26+ Arab has four molars missing and I have to feed him "the fluffliest of the fluffy hay" to get him to eat -- and it had BETTER smell like green tea or he's not touching it.

That goes for grass hay or bermuda - if it's not FLUFFFFFEEE coastal bermuda, he won't touch it, no matter how great it smells.

If your barn owner is up for gathering up the "hay drippings" for Lizzie, after she's cut a bale and fed everyone else, you might stand a better chance of getting Lizzie to eat her hay. Especially since the vet has already said there's a loose tooth. The tooth could be bothering her just enough that the stemmy hay either gets stuck around it or it's just uncomfortable for her to chew the stemmier hay.

You might also try Standlees compressed baled hay but be sure you don't buy that crappy bagged hay that has molasses in it!

Tractor Supply carries Standlees products; if your store doesn't have what you want, they CAN order it in and don't let them say they can't because they're lieing.

This is Standless compressed timothy hay for example.

Standlee Hay Company - View Product

There are other types of compressed hay on the left. Point being, no matter the cost, if the stuff is "fluffly" and Lizzie likes it, then everybody's happy:)

You could always call Standlee and ask to speak with a nutritionist, explain that Lizzie is a great-grandma, has cushings and is on Pergolide. These companies generally bend over backward to help an owner with a special needs horse

I hope this helps and hugs & smoochies to that precious precious Lizzie Gal

A Good Horseman Doesn't Have To Tell Anyone; The Horse Already Knows.
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post #8 of 8 Old 12-25-2012, 09:13 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you so much for the thoughtful reply, walkinthewalk! I might go back to using the syringe for supplements in the summer when I'll be able to take care of it every day and not worry about it freezing. For now, I think Liz just has to suck it up and eat her pelleted supplements! She eats them most days by the end of the day. I will definitely ask them to give her the soft "drippings" for Liz. Their hay is great quality and very soft, but Lizzie is extremely picky! I'll look into those other hay products too! She might just need a little extra help for the winter :)

Thanks again, Lizzie and I definitely appreciate it!
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