Friday, July 20, 2012

Toby, Toby, Oh Dear....


Just got a call from the vet. Toby's blood test was positive for Cushing's. Apparently, this is the cause of his "almost lamitintis" of being footsore. He has also lost some weight and muscle, although he does not show any of the rough coat symptoms. In fact, his well shedded summer coat is shiny and healthy.

Cushing's is essentially a malfunction of the pituitary gland and is very common in older horses. (He's 22)  According to one article I read, some 70% of horses develop Cushing's as they age.

Dietary controls are important in the treatment. Low starch and low sugar feeds are recommended along with low sugar forage.  The feed I've been using is alaready a high fat, low starch/sugar mix, so that's OK. The hay?  I don't know if my supplier has tests on it this year, but last time we checked, it was pretty good too. The only regular variable is the grass around here.

Now, I certainly do not have lush pastures. But there is some speculation that the changes in weather might impact the sugars in the grass I do have. But, there is no way I could imagine a horse being able to survive on the grass that's available in my paddocks and pasture. There's just too little of it.

At any rate, Toby will be getting Pergolide, the drug of choice for Cushing's and I will be adding some magnesium supplements to his diet. For the summer, at least, he will have shoes.  He has shoes and pads on now and seems quite comfortable.

Not sure what else to do at the moment but I am researching.

On the weather front, it has cooled off considerably over the last two days. I went swimming yesterday bot at the moment, today, it just might be too chilly.

Looks like some riding would be some good exercise!


  1. Oh no, poor Toby. I think it sounds like he's already getting all he needs in the way of good nutrition. I don't know much about how to treat Cushing's since none of our horses have ever had it. I'm sure your research will turn up some good ideas for treatments that help. Good luck. Hope you get a ride in soon.

  2. I haven't had to deal with Cushings but my impression is that it can be controlled well with medication. Good luck! At least you know why his feet hurt. We did Cushings testing on Jackson to see if that was his problem...but it wasn't.

  3. Anonymous11:30 AM

    Lily was diagnosed with Cushings this year as well - she did have the heavy curly coat and looked like a yak until Melissa body clipped her. She's on pergolide too and is doing well.

  4. Don't know if you've heard of Dr. Eleanor Kellon or not. She has a very informative site related to equine Cushings and IR.

    She also teaches online classes that come highly recommended. On my list to take one winter.

    There's lots you can do to keep Toby well - good luck.

  5. Anonymous1:55 PM

    Before you do ANYTHING (except start the Pergolide), I strongly recommend watching all of these videos:

    They are the most useful and informative series I have ever seen.

    I am an owner of an older, extremely healthy Cushings gelding, so I understand the concerns. In fact, the diagnosis of Cushings and beginning the Pergolide is the BEST thing that could have happened.

    You will be amazed at the difference in Tony after few weeks. (Please remember that many horses get "grumpy" for the first few weeks on Pergolide, that mood change goes away.)

    Good luck

  6. As you pointed out, it is very common so there is a lot of research and information out there in addition to your vet. I do know that horses that have Cushing's are prone to laminitis so you will have to do everything you can to prevent it. I know he will get the best care!

  7. I only know of one horse over the age of 20 who doesn't have Cushing's (and I'm not naming names, because I don't want to jinx myself!).

    In some ways, it's a good thing that so many horses have it, because it means there is a lot of information out there. All the horses I know that have it are doing very well, most are on Pergolide, and many are still in consistent work!

    Toby is in good hands, I'm sure he'll be back to his old shenanigans in no time!

  8. sorry to hear that, but add my voice to those who say it's more than manageable....

  9. Oh what a shame. In case you don't know Jean, grass eaten at night contains a lot less sugar than grass eaten during sunlight hours. If you can keep him in from 9am to 7pm it might help a lot.


  10. A diagnosis is better than a mystery, at least. Although no disease would be better still, of course. I know nothing about this. Hugs to you and your herd.