Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Early Spring Cushings Update

When last I updated on Tristan's progress with Cushings, it was late November and we got the great news that his ACTH levels were back within normal limits.

Once we realized that he needed to be blanketed for cold this winter, because the disease was playing havoc with his temperature regulation, he went into his full blanket rotation. That worked really well. I checked on him constantly, and had lots of ongoing conversation with the barn manager about how he was coping. He trucked along beautifully in his assortment of blankets, and we figured out his parameters for each blanket, about which more later.

After his first full winter of being blanketed, he only developed the slightest hint of the beginning of a rub from once blanket, and we just swapped it out. Problem solved. He's got a spot on his mane that is less than ideal, but it's also very far from rubbed out - just a little thinner & shorter.

He gained both muscle tone and weight through the winter. Not enough of the former, a bit too much of the latter. The barn worked really hard in this unbelievably cold weather to get them as close to free choice hay as possible, and we even ended up cutting out the alfalfa pellets from Tristan's diet and scaling back his ration of Carb Guard.

Right now, he's actually borderline too heavy for my own preferences. I've always kept him on the lean side, because he's such an easy keeper. He's also waaaaaaaaay out of shape, even with the improved muscle tone, because of this #$@&#$ winter.

He is alert, happy, and shedding like crazy right in sync with his normal shedding time and amount.

He saw the vet late last week for a physical, teeth floating, and vaccinations, and here's what she had to say in her report:
Haircoat appropriate length/thickness for season and there is no topline wasting or other subjective signs of Cushing's disease. 
Body Condition Score = 5/9. Perfect!! Ribs can be felt easily but not seen unless in the right light. This is an ideal body weight for your animal. 
Excellent teeth with shiny pulp cavities and no evidence of diseased teeth or feed packing. Sharp points all arcades and M3's have small ramps. Reduced all sharp points and ramps.
Atta boy! He turns 20 in 2 more weeks, so I couldn't be happier that the vet was thrilled. :)

We will keep him off grass until the spring growing has finished, and then transition him on to the least lush grass and keep an eagle eye. Hopefully he'll get some time out on the grass when it's least dangerous for him, and hopefully with careful monitoring we'll be able to get a good sense for his tolerance. He still does not show any signs of more general metabolic disease, so there's no clear reason to think he won't do well on grass.

Now that it's spring, we'll get back in shape and here's to a great summer. :) I really think that so far we are in the best case scenario for a Cushings horse.


  1. Yay Tristan! So awesome to hear.

  2. Sounds like he's feeling great!

  3. nice work - glad he's doing so well!

  4. It sounds like you have a really good barn who are going the extra mile to look after your boy. I have limited experience of CUshings and have always taken it as a 'growing older' problem - our old pony (27, PTS when he colicked badly last year) showed signs of it in his last couple of years. You've made me aware of how it might be managed - thank you! Hopefully stuff I won't need for at least another ten years :-)


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