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  1. #1
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    Dec. 18, 2006
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    NY
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    Default Cushings pony hoof growth

    Do Cushings horses/ponies just tend have faster hoof growth? I have often read that "more frequent trims" may be necessary, but am surprised at how fast my Cushings pony's feet are growing. We can barely get to 3 weeks before they start to flare and distort dangerously.

    At first, they didn't grow more quickly than "normal", or so it seemed, but he was a very sick little guy (ACTH 425 instead of normal 9-35); and it's not fair to compare that sick pony to anything normal. I just had his ACTH re-checked and it is 13.3, so that is great, but we are still struggling to get his feet under control; they grow so quickly that trying to un-do the years of improper trimming (by the owner) is tough. Although I guess I can understand why someone might consider trimming on their own with this type of growth.

    (Never fear, I wouldn't touch his feet. Of all my horses they would be the ones I'd feel least able to figure out. If I ever had the urge to learn, I would try on one of the ones with good feet!)

    Luckily my farrier is willing to come back in between trims and trim again (and didn't charge me last time either), but I guess I need to just schedule trims for every 3 weeks if this is *normal* (rather than call and ask him to squeeze in an emergency trim.)

    Just editing to say that I got him in August in very poor condition; nearly lost him by September, and now that he's on 1/2 Prascend tablet daily he has improved immensely. Except for the wacky feet.



  2. #2
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    Aug. 21, 2004
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    Guanajuato, GTO, Mexico
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by S1969 View Post
    Do Cushings horses/ponies just tend have faster hoof growth?
    Yes, when insulin is still not under control. Insulin triggers the ILGF (insulin-like growth factor) receptors in the foot, causing abnormally fast growth. When you get the diet sufficiently low enough in NSC, the growth rate will normalize.



  3. #3
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    Dec. 18, 2006
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    NY
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    Default

    Well darn, that wasn't what I was hoping to hear. I have the vet coming next week for spring shots so I'll ask if she thinks testing his insulin is a good idea. He only eats hay and a small amount of TC Senior (the only thing he will eat - no beet pulp, no ration balancers), so the NSC is coming from the hay and that will be more difficult to control. I have soaked his hay before and he will eat it; but soaking hay for everyone will be a big PITA, and separating him won't be fun either....but possible; certainly by spring he will be on a dry lot with at least one mini, but at the moment they are all out in one big (frozen) pasture. I can try to have my hay tested but buying from small scale farmers means that the hay comes from different fields sometimes, so isn't always the same.

    Do the IR Control supplements work? I'd love to avoid soaking hay if at all possible. Even in the warmer weather that was the worst job in the world (especially since we were in a drought and couldn't justify wasting the water so I dragged it all around to various gardens.)



  4. #4
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    Aug. 21, 2004
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    Default

    You are correct. Feeding metabolically challenged horses is not fun.

    Feeding untested hay without soaking will not work.
    Feeding special needs horses the same as the rest of the herd will not work.
    Make him a small place next to the rest for him to eat by himself.



  5. #5
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    Dec. 18, 2006
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    NY
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Katy Watts View Post
    You are correct. Feeding metabolically challenged horses is not fun.
    I got this part already. What started as a simple way of giving my mini a summer dry-lot companion (while giving a "sound but can't go on grass" pony an upgrade) has turned into a very expensive "free" pony that is also a huge pain in the rear to manage. I do hold a big-time grudge against the experienced horse person we got him from since she must have known a lot more about his needs. (And on top of this, my mini hates him).

    It sounds like I might be able to manage better if I could find a hay supplier with consistent hay quality. The pony seemed to be doing great until mid-December which coincides to when we got a new load of hay. (It also coincided to when he had a mild virus and fever, so that was where I was looking for explanations.) The old hay was ok, but a late and stemmy 1st cutting, so much was being wasted, and I complained to my hay supplier. New load was much better, but obviously from a different field, different time of year, etc.

    Perhaps I can find a supplier that does test their hay and has larger, more consistent crops; I know the rest of my horses would also do just fine (or better) on a lower NSC hay.

    In the meantime, is there any benefit to things like Smart IR (or whatever it is called?)



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug. 25, 2012
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    Default

    I will be the first to admit the initial legwork of figuring out what diet will work for your metabolically challenged horse is a ton of work but once tou get past that it isn't so bad.

    Talk to tons of hay suppliers/farmers and find out what the biggest load of hay is you can get from them that is from the same field AND same cut. Once you find someone who you can get 4-6 months worth of hay from and get it tested. If it comes back ok and if you bought lots the supplier might even store for what you can't take yet.

    As far as the rest of the diet goes Dr. Kellon has a yahoo group for cushings/IR horses if you google it will come up and they are super helpful!



  7. #7
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    Aug. 21, 2004
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    Quote Originally Posted by S1969 View Post
    In the meantime, is there any benefit to things like Smart IR (or whatever it is called?)
    IMO, not without first addressing the NSC content of the hay. Supplements are for fine tuning AFTER you get the sugar minimized as much as possible.
    It would be more cost effective to test the hay, rather than adding more stuff.
    Sorry, I know its not what you want to hear.
    Yes, free horses often end up being the most expensive ones to keep.



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec. 18, 2006
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    NY
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Kwalker024 View Post
    I will be the first to admit the initial legwork of figuring out what diet will work for your metabolically challenged horse is a ton of work but once tou get past that it isn't so bad.

    Talk to tons of hay suppliers/farmers and find out what the biggest load of hay is you can get from them that is from the same field AND same cut. Once you find someone who you can get 4-6 months worth of hay from and get it tested. If it comes back ok and if you bought lots the supplier might even store for what you can't take yet.

    As far as the rest of the diet goes Dr. Kellon has a yahoo group for cushings/IR horses if you google it will come up and they are super helpful!
    Thank you. I did belong to the Cushings/IR group but actually unsubscribed due to sensory overload AND once we got his Cushings under control and could see obvious improvements, I thought I was on the right track. He was very, very thin, and obviously sickly, so I was hoping his only issue was Cushings but clearly we now need to consider IR as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Katy Watts View Post
    IMO, not without first addressing the NSC content of the hay. Supplements are for fine tuning AFTER you get the sugar minimized as much as possible.
    It would be more cost effective to test the hay, rather than adding more stuff.
    Sorry, I know its not what you want to hear.
    Yes, free horses often end up being the most expensive ones to keep.
    No, that is what I wanted to hear - I don't want to spend any more money for no benefit. I literally just filled my hay shed with new hay 3 days ago, and even I can see that it is from a variety of different fields. But, I haven't been thrilled with my hay anyway, so this could be the best reason to search for a new supplier.

    We recently bought another 15 acres and thought we might convert it to pasture but seems like none of my horses need any more grass. (Except my TB, and even she gets fat on grass). My paint mare needs to be restricted and we just got a new WB mid-winter but I'll bet she's an easy keeper too. Maybe I will just plow down my pasture into dry lots and bale my own hay. <sigh>

    Well, at least we have some answers about hoof growth, so if I can control the Cushings AND the IR, maybe he could still end up to be a healthy (albeit totally useless) 12h pony. (Since none of us are small enough to ride him anyway).



  9. #9
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    Aug. 25, 2012
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    Would hay cubes be an option? I forget which it is the group recommends but it is always an option especially until you can figure out a long term hay solution.

    Will he pull a cart since he is too small to ride?!



  10. #10
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    Dec. 18, 2006
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    NY
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Kwalker024 View Post
    Would hay cubes be an option? I forget which it is the group recommends but it is always an option especially until you can figure out a long term hay solution.

    Will he pull a cart since he is too small to ride?!
    He might pull a cart; he is supposed to be broke to drive but he's a wacky little dude. I think he's half-gaited; he's not a typical-looking pony. He's like a little Rocky Mountain Horse or RMH/mini mixture. I really never cared if he was useless; it's the "very expensive and difficult to manage" part that makes the useless part sting.

    As for the hay cubes, the biggest challenge is just separating them - whether it be with different hay, soaked hay or cubes. We have separate pastures (one being a dry lot) during grazing season but pull them all out when the ground freezes and let them use the pasture as one big area with hay. So, there are ways I can do it, even with the frozen ground, but it won't be easy. It would help if he & the mini loved each other but he considers himself "big" and does not want to be confined with her alone, and she doesn't care for him either and bullies him around.

    But, I'll work on it and also start searching for hay suppliers. My new load of hay isn't as nice as the last one (not that it means anything about sugar without testing, I know) but it might be more like the fall hay so that would help.



  11. #11
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    Feb. 28, 2006
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    The rocky part of KY
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    Default

    I finally went to the more expensive TC Senior and Standlees timothy pellets and got a more consistent sugar level for the old guy. We didn't blow any abcesses this fall for the first time, I'm pleased to say. His hay consumption is minimal, he wastes easily 50% and we aren't feeding him a lot either.
    His feet have improved over the three years we've had him here and he now seems comfortable with regular trims every four weeks.
    It is a lot of work, there is always something going on.
    Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
    Incredible Invisible



  12. #12
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    Jul. 14, 2011
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    Warren County, NJ
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    Default

    The TWH in my barn needs his trimmed ideally every 2 weeks, but the owner stretches it to 3 weeks. His Cushings is under control, but I doubt his IR is. He's still turned out on stressed grass and eating unsoaked hay, so that could be part of his hoof growth problem. His coat is out of control too.



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