Cushings disease- can have pasture? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 04-12-2017, 12:54 AM Thread Starter
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Cushings disease- can have pasture?

Is pasture safe for horses with Cushings? What do you feed your cushings horse?

My old mare has finally recovered from her dental extraction last month. We were struggling to get her weight up and she was just doing poorly in general. Her weight is much better now, but her coat doesn't look good. She's just starting to shed now.

I have a feeling this may be her last summer. She has bad arthritis and she nearly fell during hoof trimming. Her left hind is very sore. It is difficult to get her to pick her right front as she doesn't want to put weight on her hind. In addition to her arthritis, she has DSLD in both hinds.

The vet suggested previcox and we are getting an ACTH test for cushings. Right now she is on Bute.

My hay guy has very generously offered to lease me a 10 acre pasture, as I had explained how she can no longer eat coastal hay and how much we have struggled getting her weight up.

She has done well on grass previously. But I'm wondering if she is positive for cushings would pasture be harmful? I could still rent the pasture for everyone else, but she is the one costing the most to feed.
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post #2 of 5 Old 04-12-2017, 01:56 AM
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It depends. The majority of Cushing's horses can't be on a lot of pasture. That's because insulin resistance is often seen in the same horses that have Cushing's. However, some horses with Cushing's do not have insulin resistance, and those horses can be on pasture. Those horses are more rare, so if your horse has not been tested for insulin resistance I would be very cautious.

My mare with Cushing's does not have insulin resistance, so she is out on pasture during the day. I limit her hay and keep her body condition score at a 5 or less to help prevent her from developing insulin resistance. She also does not get any grain, and the hay is low NSC.

I'd think about what your goals are for this horse...with serious arthritis, DSLD and possibly Cushing's, perhaps your goal is not to keep her around for a long time but rather to let her be happy during the possibly shorter time she has left. If your goal is more about her short term happiness, then I would probably let her be out on pasture enjoying herself even knowing it might end up triggering laminitis and she might have to be put down. If she has three progressive, incurable, chronic conditions I'd probably lean that way myself.
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post #3 of 5 Old 04-12-2017, 11:57 AM
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Agree with gottotrot. My Cushing's horse also doesn't have IR so can be managed in much the same way as a normal horse other than she's on Pergolide (Prascend).
I do tend to keep all of my horses on a low starch/low sugar diet though and none of them have 24/7 access to unlimited lush grazing because they all pile weight on really easily.
Any horse can develop laminitis and IR so I go with the prevention is better than cure policy
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post #4 of 5 Old 04-12-2017, 02:39 PM
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My friends horse did have both cushings and insulin resistance.

She kept him in a dry lot, had her hay tested and fed him "Triple Crown Balanced Timothy Cubes". She had to soak them and mush them up as he choked fairly easy.

One of the absolute musts with cushings and IR horses is frequent hoof trims. Six weeks can be a stretch, five weeks is better, four weeks if the horse is recovering from founder.

Hoof Abscesses seem to plague cushings horses, so that's another reason to have frequent trims and for the owner to keep the hooves clean and know how the horse should walk when sound.

Good luck:). I have an IR horse that foundered pretty bad. I do not like to micro manage but it's an evil I have been pulled into with this IR horse. Not to mention all the ancillary expenses that go with metabolic disease:(
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post #5 of 5 Old 04-14-2017, 01:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 4horses View Post
Is pasture safe for horses with Cushings? What do you feed your cushings horse?
While you should always be super careful with a Cushings horse the important thing is to test of IR. That is your deciding factor about how careful you need to be. If not insulin resistant then grass is fine though you should be super cautious about it.

My old mare has finally recovered from her dental extraction last month. We were struggling to get her weight up and she was just doing poorly in general. Her weight is much better now, but her coat doesn't look good. She's just starting to shed now.
A lot of that may be related to the Cushings, is she on pergolide? Clip her coat if needed.

I have a feeling this may be her last summer. She has bad arthritis and she nearly fell during hoof trimming. Her left hind is very sore. It is difficult to get her to pick her right front as she doesn't want to put weight on her hind. In addition to her arthritis, she has DSLD in both hinds. I'm sorry to hear that :(. O/T advice but I had a mare with severe arthritis in her knee (she would rear back if it was bent too far.
Treat the arthritis appropriately- management, medication, supplements, etc. Also make sure she gets bute before the farrier comes, as much as it takes to make her comfortable (vet approved of course). Having her stand on a soft surface may help as it sounds like standing is part of the problem (probably something in addition to the arthritis I would check that out) Our old mare got to the point the farrier would just rest her toe on the ground and trim the best he could, not ideal but he was able to do a decent job.


The vet suggested previcox and we are getting an ACTH test for cushings. Right now she is on Bute. See what the results of the ACTH test say and test for insulin resistance as well. Your vet will be able to give the best advice on what's appropriate for your horse as it's all so dependent. Yes you definitely want to get her off of regular bute.

My hay guy has very generously offered to lease me a 10 acre pasture, as I had explained how she can no longer eat coastal hay and how much we have struggled getting her weight up. Why not? Is this related to her teeth? You specified "coastal hay" so jw. If she has teeth problems pasture may not help. Lots of soaked mush is the best diet. Forage (say alfalfa pellets) beet pulp, senior feed, etc.

She has done well on grass previously. But I'm wondering if she is positive for cushings would pasture be harmful? I could still rent the pasture for everyone else, but she is the one costing the most to feed.
My replies in bold. Cushings, arthritis and DLSD all take a lot of management and care and can be expensive. But it does sound like you're doing the minimum right now/ in the early stages of figuring stuff out. I wouldn't be so quick to see the worse as when properly managed the horse can make an amazing turn around. She will likely need pergolide and previcox/herbal supplementation (I would do both) for the rest of her life but those things can make a huge difference. Just give it a try and see what happens.

And yeah, regardless of if she CAN have pasture (I would be leery about throwing her out unlimited if at all positive even if IR negative) I'm not sure you'll see the benefits you are hoping to from it. When we had a gelding with bad teeth he got a handful of hay (to keep him happy, unless a choking hazard hay should always be provided even if they aren't getting anything out of it) and MUSH 3/4 times a day.. We played around with hay/ alfalfa pellets and cubes beet pulp senior feeds oils, etc. He ended up getting some combination of most of that in a big water pail and looked fantastic! Once we got used to the routine it wasn't any extra work either So I would be thinking about completely redoing her diet after her dental issues. As far as the Cushings it turned my very easy keeper into a rather hard keeper, it also causes muscle loss so they look that much more. You also don't want her at all heavy with Cushings, my gelding is kept at a 4.5 max per the vet so I don't know how bad she is but I wouldn't be too worried.
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