I body clipped my horse this summer.....Cushings? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 06-07-2012, 06:59 PM Thread Starter
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I body clipped my horse this summer.....Cushings?

So my Mustang did shed out this spring. He is actually my earliest horse to start shedding and sheds out before my other two horses. But his summer coat came in long. Not wavy, but probably around 3/4" long. He's always had more coat than some other horses, but was still relatively slick in the summer.

So this spring/summer when I would ride him he was really sweaty and huffing and puffing and I finally body clipped him. It was my first time body clipping a horse EVER and he looks great! I gave him a blanket style clip.

So I guess what I am concerned about is if my guy is coming down with Cushings. He doesn't have any of the extreme symptoms I see when I Google "cushings horse" such as muscle wastage, pot belly, or wavy hair. But maybe this is just the start of it?

Are there any other reasons a horse would grow in more of a summer coat than normal?

I figured there is no harm in clipping him so I tried it. And let me tell you it's like having a new horse! He is much more comfortable being ridden now. Cools out quicker and has more energy. I guess I am just trying to figure out why his summer coat is longer than usual this year. Any ideas?

PS. I don't have pictures off-hand but I can get some later when I go feed him.
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post #2 of 6 Old 06-07-2012, 07:54 PM
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You did the right thing by clipping him

Yes, he could be in the early stages of cushings, even though he doesn't have any of the other "standard" symptoms.

Even blood tests often don't show anything until the horse is so far into cushings that it doesn't take a blood test to say the horse has cushings

Best you can do for him is to keep his diet as low starch and sugar-free as possible.

If he's an easy keeper and is on pasture, it might be prudent to muzzle him during the day.

Feed grass hay only. Don't feed legumes such as alfalfa. Don't let him eat off a roundbale if he's dry lotted. His intake needs controlled.

No grains whatsoever. A good ration balancer with a vitamin/mineral supplement would be good. You could always add 1/2 cup of wet timothy pellets so he thinks he's eating

Frequent hoof trims are critical to these metabolic horses. Don't let the toes get long or the heels too high.

When the insulin spikes, it spikes right into the hooves on many horses and that's what causes "grass founder".

No sugary treats, including apples and carrots. Believe it or not, carrots are very high in sugars

The Yahoo Equine Cushings Group has a lot of great information and is run by Dr. Eleanor Kellon.

This is also her website and has some great preventative and emergency information.

Point-being, even if your horse isn't cushings but you suspect it -- there's nothing wrong with feeding him as if he is. It's a lot healthier for him

I have four horses, two of whom have been formally diagnosed with metabolic issues. All four horses eat the same base diet as the two with metabolic issues; they're happy, have glowing coats and plenty of energy
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post #3 of 6 Old 06-07-2012, 08:01 PM Thread Starter
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Pretty well all I feed is alfalfa hay. No pasture. Grass hay is sporadically available.

I've kind of read mixed reviews on alfalfa for cushings type horses. Some say don't feed it and others say it is good for cushings horses because it is low in sugar. It's pretty well always lower in sugar than grass hay.

So is the problem protein or???

Thanks for the thoughtful post. :)

Last edited by trailhorserider; 06-07-2012 at 08:09 PM.
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post #4 of 6 Old 06-07-2012, 08:21 PM
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Not all Cushing horses will have insulin resistance. My mare had Cushings & she never needed any dietary restrictions. I had her tested every 6 months.
She was maintained on Permax for about 13 years & the Cushings did not end her life at age 33+.
Your vet can best determine what is going on.
Good luck.
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post #5 of 6 Old 06-07-2012, 09:32 PM Thread Starter
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Does he look like a Cushings horse? These are photos taken today with his summer trim and some close-ups of his coat.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg john clip.jpg (79.7 KB, 314 views)
File Type: jpg john clip2.JPG (91.4 KB, 338 views)
File Type: jpg john clip3.JPG (87.9 KB, 274 views)
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post #6 of 6 Old 06-08-2012, 08:04 AM
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That doesn't look like the stereo-typical cushings coat but I'll bet if the vet draws blood he will tell you this horse has a low thyroid.

Low thyroids on their own are rare in horses; it's generally something else causing the problem, like insulin

I'd almost bet money your horse is headed for insulin resistance.

I say that because I have two with metabolic issues and really think my third Tennessee Walker is moving in that direction

If he is, it's my pasture, without question. He wasn't shedding his winter coat like he should. His blood work came back showing a low thyroid. I put him on Chastetree and guess what -- within ten days his coat was shed to where it always is.

Good and not good. Not good because it took the chastetree to get his coat shed completely out and that, to me, means his got the beginnings of insulin issues. This is the same horse that was my Control Horse when I was involved in the University of Minnesota's metabolic studies two years ago.

Regarding the alfalfa:

My 25 yo with Equine Metabolic Syndrome is fine eating soaked timothy/alfalfa cubes because he's reached the age where he needs that extra protein and amino acids.

My 17 yo with true insulin resistance can't even smell those cubes or his insulin spikes.

If you can feed bagged hay (Tractor Supply sells it), my thought would get him off alfalfa for a month and see what happens.

Another reason horses can show a low thyroid and not shed like they should is iodine. Too much or too little will show the same symptoms however, so one isn't really sure which direction to go.

If your horse is getting a vitamin/mineral supplement he shouldn't be low in iodine. Without having your alfalfa tested, you have no way of knowing if the iodine is high or low.

We've reached an era where horse keeping, sadly, is no longer just throw a handful of oats and a flake of hay at the horse. There's so much pollution and feeds have been genetically modified so as to increase yield on less acreage that, it just about forces all of us horse owners to become more knowledeable horse nutrition than we want to be

And that nutrition is a delicate balance. While all my horses eat as if they had metabolic issues, once I get past the base diet, things really vary from horse-to-horse based on their personal health issues. It can make you crazy
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