My horse has been diagnosed with cushings! Now what?
So I need advice.my jumper has been diagnosed with cushings and is now on pergolide. What does this mean for his future? He was getting ready to get back into the ring after some time off. Then a severe bout of laminitis sidelined him again. He is 15 has done the gp jumpers and is currently a 4 ft jumper. What are some experiences/ thoughts on horses with cushings competing!? Is this a sidelining disease??
Should I considering retiring him?
Our older horse is not competing, but she is keeping fit working in Driving Multiples with the rest of the horses, doing regular mileages to about 7 miles in a brisk time. No issues except giving her the meds daily. SHE is usually the one setting the pace of the gaits, since we use her to teach the others speeds within the gaits. She is 27yrs now, been on the Pergolide about 2years. No laminitus issues with her, EVER, so we don't have that problem to deal with. She is in good flesh, but not fat. She looks better muscled, moves smoother with being in work, than letting her stand around. Totally sound, just older, so we limit the mileage we ask of her, and how many times a week she does those miles. Gets worked with a partner on ring work, driven Dressage, bending exercises or around the field in a few hazards, on other days used in the week.
Well managed, your horse should be able to be used for a long time to come.
Her only real management issue is body clipping for the heat. Doesn't shed well, so the hair comes off in June with the heat of days, probably again in late August. She has plenty of hair back for winter cold, and is kept unblanketed most times, unless there is a weather surprise here with cold temps.
Personally I had to unsubscribe to the Cushings Group because it was just constant information overload.
My Cushings pony is a small pony that we have been rehabbing since we acquired him with out of control, undiagnosed & untreated Cushings. So, getting and keeping him in riding condition has not been our goal.
But, it seems to me that the key to managing it is making sure the Pergolide dosage is working for him. If you can keep his hormone levels in the normal range, that will be the biggest help. So maybe have him re-tested in 60-90 days to make sure his levels are normal.
Talk to your farrier also. You may want to keep him in shoes (if he's not already in them), but may need to watch his feet more carefully. My pony's ACTH is normal, but he had a recent laminitic flare and his feet went crazy. Just had to have the farrier trim them yesterday after only 3 weeks. I hope that's not going to be the norm, but you want to keep a close eye on them.
Just curious - what was his ACTH level? Did you test him for IR also?
It definitely is not a career ender! The Yahoo Cushings group is a great resource. Arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible. Some things to be aware of with an actively working horse is heat tolerance...whether it is related to having a heavy coat or anhidrosis that sometimes develops with Cushings. Invest in a good set of clippers. Pergolide marketed under the name "Prascend" gave my mare the best results. ACTH levels fluctuate the most in the Spring and Fall so be extra vigilant about your horses diet and medication dosage. The worry is always laminitis but I think having your diagnosis now and getting ACTH levels under control before the Spring will hopefully help avoid that. Good luck to your guy....he should have many more years of happy riding ahead of him.
Check out APF also. I have a horse boarded at my place that is Cushings/ IR/ VERY laminitis prone. He is on Pergolide too, but the APF has made him a new horse. He's never looked better in the 5yrs his owner has had him. Definitely not career ending but it does need to be managed properly.
Get ready to start learning an absurd amount about nutrition and supplements! It's quite an eye opener to feed a horse with metabolic issues, lol. And if you, your vet, and your farrier all work together, you can definitely overcome laminitic issues. The key is for YOU to become involved, and really work on learning how to help your horse.
There are TONS of threads on here about metabolic problems, so if you want some great info, just search this section. Good luck, you have days of reading ahead of you, haha.
"On the back of a horse I felt whole, complete, connected to that vital place in the center of me...and the chaos within me found balance."
It can be completely overwhelming. I too unsubscribed to the yahoo group because it was soooo much information I couldn't handle it.
Take it one step at a time. Ok, first, you diagnose. Check! Then, you get started on meds.check!
Now, I would buy a notebook or start a blog. Start documenting, the ACTH level at diagnosis, dates, etc. Note lameness.
Next I would examine feed. I would determine the best feed for your horse that has a low NSC. If your hay has not been tested, do so. Decide a course of action and start slowly transitioning over. Remember, treats need to be evaluated too.
Then I'd get the farrier involved and work on that angle.
If you break it down into its parts, it's not as daunting. I have a cushings pony who's been dx'd for about 6-7 months and is doing fantastic.
My mare was diagnosed with Cushings at age 16. Continued to show her for 2 more years, then retired her (due to arthritis, not Cushings). She then produced two foals. She lived to the ripe old age of 33.
Cushings is manageable. So long as you work together with your vet, farrier and barn manager and everyone is on board, you shouldn't have any problems.
The only issues I ever had were when certain BMs didn't make sure she got her meds every day or fed the wrong kind of feed. I ended up taking over her care myself in those situations to make sure things were done correctly.