... but my vet doesn't think cushings. The main reason he thinks this is that the coat is still silky, and not very thick. It's just long for a summer coat (we're southern hemisphere, so summer coat should already be here by now).
Bit of a background - horse is 19, thoroughbred, ex-showjumper now retired due to arthritis. He's a good doer. He's still very perky, and sorts my youngster out in the paddock. Even still sometimes jumps paddock fences which freaks me out with his arthritis . His general condition is very good, and the only 'symptom' is his failure to shed out to a good summer coat by now.
My vet suggested actually putting him back into light riding, thinking that he's slightly depressed by not being in work any more. And then getting a full blood work-up if he doesn't improve in a month or so. Any thoughts? Should I be getting a second opinion? I really trust this vet in general, I'm just worried about this horse. He's my love-horse and very special to me.
I echo davistina67's suggestion. I have a mare just a tad older than your gelding. She is what vets term "pre-cushingoid" and her ONLY symptom to date is a similar oddness to her shedding pattern. Like your horse, the coat is silky and flat, not wavy or changed in texture, just longer than usual. It does eventually shed out to close to her old summer-slick appearance, but still retains a tad more length, and the occasional light patch of winter-esque guard hairs.
My vets and I have agreed that at this point, no treatment is warranted, but we do run a few key tess annually, and I watch her like a hawk for any potential development of new symptoms. I cannot say if this is the case for your horse or not, but if he were mine, I'd double-check just to be sure.
You both make sense and are saying exactly what I think. I think I'll wait a month (make my vet happy - I don't exactly want to second guess him and rub him up the wrong way because he's been a really great vet) and then ask him to run the blood-work. Check organ function and for cushings.
My 19 yo mare had no symptoms,, but was slow to shed this spring. Due to weird spring weather many animals shed out slowly,my goats included. Sister of my mare is IR, and I've been managing my girl on low starch feed, Quiessence, etc, although no symptoms were present. I decided to have an ACTH test done and she tested for Cushings and is now on Pergolide and doing, well-shed out nicely, etc. So, I'd go for the test. It was around $80(US), so not too bad. Better to catch things early, or at least have a baseline to compare in the future.
Be aware that early onset cushings can be difficult to diagnose as blood tests may show (false) negatives ie the test works properly but hormone levels appear normal as they vary with season (sorry I don't recall the details as I read the article some time ago).
Is he on arthritis supplements? many horses (& people) feel better on glucoseamine/HA (eg http://www.recoveryeq.com/recovery_EQ_HA.htm ); daily excercise is also recommended so I agree with your vet regarding putting him back into light work BUT this means 4-6 days a week of light riding (after rebuilding topline without a rider) rather than 1-2 days a week. Are you able to do large pasture turnout?