I had to euthanize my heart horse last year due to Cushings. She had some odd symptoms and I searched for several years trying things to help her along until it couldn’t managed anymore and I needed to euthanize her.
I wanted to describe her symptoms/vet results with you guys and see if anyone else has seen similar things, or have your own experiences with classic cushings or bizarre cushings.
My mare was a QH/paint/draft cross. She was born at our ranch, I know both parents and have owned her since birth so I know her entire history. Both parents were healthy and never showed health issues. She was a healthy foal, bright and alert. She had all the proper colustrum at birth and lived a normal outside horse life. There are no possums where we live, so EPM was ruled out, no neurological syndromes.
She had plenty of room to move in pastures, she was never stalled. She was started as a riding horse at 4. She was 16hh, about 1,300 lbs. Super cool brain, easy to handle. Very sweet.
Even as a youngster, she had terrible flat feet. She had all white feet, and I know it’s not supposed to make a difference, but it clearly did for her. No matter what kind of shoeing/trimming we did for her (and believe me, I put a whole lot of time, effort and money into different farriers over the course of YEARS to try to help her), her feet would not stand up. She wasn’t sore on them, but her front feet would just flatten out and not stand up. She had thinner soles also.
Next series of symptoms over several years.
She was 6 years old and we were riding in a field. It wasn’t slick, we were going at a nice slow trot on a wide circle and her back legs slipped out from under her and she fell down. It didn’t worry her, she got back up and stood there like ‘whoa…what just happened’ The same thing happened when we were riding a couple years later when she was 8. Also starting at 8, every fall, she would blow abscesses out of her lateral heal bulbs from both HIND feet. Like clockwork, every August/September she would stock up on one leg and blow an abscess then a couple weeks later the other hoof would blow. She did this every fall from when she was 8 until I euthanized her.
When she was 9, she started to have reactions to being vaccinated. She would get a welt and be pretty lethargic. I spaced out the vaccines to see which one she would react to and it was all of them, but spacing out seemed to help. At 11, we vaccinated her in the spring and she had a violent reaction. She developed a HUGE welt on her neck and after 14 days, she blew her coat, but only the white fur. She shed out all of her white fur on her body and face. Her pink skin on her nose blistered and her feet went even flatter and she got sore (probably acute lami). I thought that was it for her, but I got the recovery boots and got a big uv sheet and sewed 2 fly masks together for her and moved her to a boarding facility that was outside, but surrounded by trees so she could be shaded all day. She spent the summer in recovery and ended up being fine once her winter coat grew in.
I didn’t vaccinate her for anything after that and did fecal counts for worms.
At 12, her feet stopped growing, so I put shoes on her so she wouldn’t wear her feet off. She would thrive in the winter, but suffer in the summer. I did test her ACTH levels, they were normal. We did try Prascend just to see if it would help. I would say I noticed a little better, but nothing significant.
At 13, she would get the big squishy fat balls above her eyes when she would eat or put her head down and they would stay for hours but eventually go away. She blew a heel abscess in the spring of her 13th year that was the worst I’d seen. When the foot did eventually grow out, more than a quarter of her hoof capsule fell off.
She had laid down and twisted to get up or something and ended up tearing her deep digital flexor tendon in her hind leg in half, her hock looked like it had a squishy soft ball inside of it, but she wasn’t really sore to mull in the pasture. The flexion test on the hock made her sore for a week though. She was not a candidate for surgery as the general anesthesia would have killed her, so I decided I should start thinking about putting her down. That same spring as the vet was looking at her she got a nose bleed at random. Vet was very concerned with that. I noticed after that that she would get random nose bleeds, one a week, then two, then three. I made the appt for her to be PTS at the end of July, I gave her 3 grams of bute every day for 14 days to try to give her some pain free time and she got lush pasture for a couple weeks, the we euthanized her and buried her in a peaceful place in my pasture.
I had 4 vets working on this horse. 2 agreed that she had cushings, but a weird slew of symptoms outside of the classic symptoms. One vet was convinced that nothing was wrong with her and told me to just give her away…I don’t recommend her services anymore and the other vet that couldn’t identify why she had such health issues but agreed she was a weird case.
One theory was that her particular brand of cushings caused her to be inflamed all the time, hence the feet and the tendon tear and the reaction to being vaccinated…and eventually the tumor was causing nose-bleeds. That in combo with the paint and all the pink pigmentation was a combo that complicated things for her.
That was a long post.
Does anyone else have a story of odd cushing symptoms? I did see a couple older threads on this, but wanted to bring it up again.