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Your horse's ACTH levels? Results back ...

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  • Your horse's ACTH levels? Results back ...

    I am worried my horse may have Cushing's. Blood was sent to Cornell - we did the one draw - no stimulation test. Waiting for the results. I think Cornell's ref. range for normal is 9-35. Curious how other horses have tested.
    What is the best time of day to test to get accurate reading? How long after a (fibre) meal is best to test? How many "points" (mg per?) can the test be off if horse is anxious or tested the wrong time etc? I well know the yahoo Cushings group and freak just thinking about reading there again. I so don't want to go through Cushing's again. While waiting/suspecting - what should I be changing? No more grass (hand-grazing) and more exercise? TIA.
    PS. Is 25 y.o. Arab gelding.
    Last edited by grayarabs; Apr. 12, 2011, 04:35 PM.

  • #2
    Well, I can't answer all your questions, but I know we are treating Gus this year as if he has Cushings. He's tested negative for that (but positive for IR, although it had been in check) for the last three years. Regardless, due to a bout of subclinical laminitis, he's now on Pergolide. Not sure if it's "doing its job" but he's on just 0.5mg/daily for the time being and has been for about 8 weeks now.

    We've always tested Gus post feeding, but he's not on any "grain" really, just a ration balancer. So it's never been an issue when testing. And he's not a worry-wort, so increased levels of cortisol(?) have not been an issue either.

    Not sure if any of that information helps at all. Best of luck with your horse. FWIW, we've always had a hunch that Gus had Cushings, just due to his coat (not overly long hair, but very very dense and CURLY this time of the year, only when he's sweaty though).
    Proud owner of Gus & Gringo.
    See G2's blog


    • Original Poster

      ACTH 42.3 (9-35)
      Ins. 13.78 (10-40)

      Waiting to discuss the results with the vet. I am worried, but how worried should I be? My horse has some of the symptoms, starting with the long hair.
      He is shedding - almost normal neck and shoulder area - but still not slick (or close to) the rest of his body.

      Blood was pulled late afternoon FWIW.

      I don't understand the "Precautions" on the results page ......"Concentrations of ACTH and in Insulin are generally greater than the reference values".....(???)

      Thoughts please. Can others share their horses' levels? Thanks.


      • #4
        My gelding was tested in December, 2009. His ACTH was 72. My vet told me that she doesn't necessarily see a correlation between ACTH numbers and severity of symptoms. He has long hair and has gone from a hard keeper to a rediculously hard keeper, but no laminitis.

        My pony was tested just a few weeks ago. His ACTH was 35, not a clinical diagnosis of Cushings, but he was foundering, started just around Christmas, with no other cause. We lost the battle. He was released from his suffering on 4/4/11. He was the sweetest, kindest, most affectionate little guy I have ever known. I miss him terribly.

        If your horse is doing well, no need to panic. Just follow the vet's instructions and he should be okay.
        "The captive bolt is not a proper tool for slaughter of equids they regain consciousness 30 seconds after being struck fully aware they are being vivisected." Dr Friedlander DVM & frmr Chief USDA Insp


        • Original Poster

          Thanks P. I was wondering about the number and what it could mean in regards to severity and problems. So sorry about your pony. I lost a wonderful pony-ish Arab some years ago to Cushing's/founder. I intend to try to start my horse on CTB powder asap - praying we can get it in him somehow.


          • #6
            My 28 year old arabX was diagnosed with cushings last year.... ACTH of 55 and just started to become hard to keep weight on. My vet said 55 was mild.
            He does not "look like a classic cushings pony."

            He is on 1mg of pergolide per day and a STRICT diet, no grass and is still ridden lightly 3-5 times a week.
            Has 24/7 accesss to hay(tested) and gets 2 lbs of TC senior, no grass, no treats.

            I have another pony who is 30 and got an ACTH of 75--he is also responding well to pergolide and diet.


            • #7
              I can't remember what my old guys levels are, but we have tested him 2x a year for a long time now. He is on a thyroid supplement and we have suspected cushings for a long time now. Within the past 12 months he finally changed enough that the vet wanted to put him on peroglide. We have had him on it and this is the first year in a very very long time that he shed out properly-I mean great big hunks of 4 inch long hair coming off like a normal horse. His coat was abnormally thick and long (well, it has become normal for him) and I would always have to clip, and clip multiple times. This year I just kept currying, furminating, etc and off it came. I did pull out the clippers on Monday, as he has not shed out completely and took it all off, as we have been getting into the high 80's. He is 28 and on low starch feed.
              RIP Mydan Mydandy+
              RIP Barichello


              • Original Poster

                Does anyone have an opinion on this article: