So what are the signs of Cushings?
We all know it generally affects mature horses, but what age can it strike?
I bet you probably think of the older pony in mid-summer with a coat like a woolly mammoth, standing in a bare paddock to prevent the associated Laminitis that usually comes knocking hand in hand with Cushings.
What about the warning signs before then? What about the treatments available now which enable your horse or pony to continue to live to a ripe old age and continue work? Did you know about them? The sooner you diagnose this condition the better.
My own recent experience with this came earlier this year when I was with my friend who is also rather conveniently an equine veterinary surgeon. I was just turning out my 17 year old home bred, he sauntered through the gate and then stopped to pee…this was normal for our routine. He also had developed a skin condition which I was writing off as sweet itch and treating it as so.
“Have you had him tested for Cushings?” she asked. I hadn’t and the thought hadn’t really crossed my mind, he wasn’t a mammoth and wasn’t suffering from Laminitis. In hindsight, I had noticed his bed was wetter, also at Pony Club camp his rider had moaned about having to fill his water more than usual. She had thought he was spilling it in to his shavings as his bed was so wet. As he had been kept out that summer I hadn’t noticed just how much he was urinating.
Two days later ‘Monty’ had a blood test and a week or so later it was confirmed he was suffering from Equine Cushings. One pink pill a day later and I have my sprightly boy back, although he’s semi retired now the difference in his demeanour is so noticeable. I often wonder at why I didn’t notice it sooner, I have to be honest, I am slightly ashamed but it creeps up slowly and as it is often attacking your more mature friends it’s easy to write off as old age. With my experience in mind, I would urge all owners to be a little more aware of this disease which is so easily controlled.
Click here for a link to the British Horse Society’s leaflet on Cushings and the management of it.