Managing Cushings in a young mini

My 8 year old, 8 1/2 h mini had an episode of laminitis in November.
I thought at first it was due to letting her go muzzle-less too soon, though there had been several hard frosts. But when she was tested for ACTH and insulin, her levels were high (69.9 and 104).
They didn’t come down after a month of 1/2 mg of Prascend
and the vet preferred adding a chaste tree berry supplement to upping the pergolide dose. The mini doesn’t like the DePaolo Equine Concepts Chaste Tree Berry powder, but will eat a small amount mixed with applesauce and her 1/3 c mini horse feed.
She eats quite a lot of hay, an occupational hazard of her job as companion to a TB that we stoke with hay, though he keeps her away from it until he’s had his fill, so I’m working on getting that quantity finer tuned.
I would be glad of any management tips. Has anyone had good results with CTB supplement, and is there a palatable formulation without much sugar? Does anyone muzzle a mini or pony in winter to cut hay consumption, and can they get enough hay to keep warm with a muzzle on? What grain would you recommend to hide the Prascend in?
Thanks for any ideas.

I don’t have a Cushings mini but I have a five year old with insulin resistance. I think your vet will ask you to really find a way to get her hay consumption under control.

With my guy, who is 36", my vets indicated that I really needed to get that done because without losing weight he’d not improve.

I’ve turned to Nibble Nets (I have four minis) and it’s working well. I don’t feel I’m depriving them and they have something to munch on all the time.

Could you put a Nibble Net high for the TB so the mini couldn’t get at it and then she could get the leavings when the TB is done?

It’s hard though, and if I still had my Thoroughbred I’d be in your shoes as he needed full choice second cutting hay, which wouldn’t have worked for the insulin boy at all.

Does anyone muzzle a mini or pony in winter to cut hay consumption, and can they get enough hay to keep warm with a muzzle on?[/QUOTE]
I can’t answer any of your other questions, but I have a large pony that is an easy keeper. Last winter, she was turned out in a dry lot with 3 TBs. I did keep her in a grazing muzzle then, and she did just fine. I actually wonder how much it even reduced her consumption, because she was very determined and got very good at sucking in hay through that little hole :lol:

Thanks, Maunder. I am using small mesh hay nets, which both the big ang little horses are adept at biting pretty good-sized mouthfuls of hay out of.
Thanks, Cheerio, I appreciate knowing that a pony can survive eating hay thru a muzzle. I’m afraid I’ll have to do that.

What is the WSC + starch level in this hay? You will not get this under control until you get the sugar out of the hay. If you cannot find special low sugar hay for this mini, then soak it in a lot of fresh water. What they eat is important than the rate at which they eat.
A mini can still be a companion, but eat it’s own hay on the other side of a fence.

When was the blood for ACTH drawn? While not impossible, it is unlikely an 8 yo mini would have Cushings. The value is not that high. All horses have a seasonal rise in ACTH from August through Nov/Dec.

You might want to show this to your vet. The study (conducted by the University of Pennsylvania, New Bolton Cebter) compares pergolide and chastetree berry. Results showed CTB was worthless for treating Cushings. Hope this link works. If not, google pergolide vs chastetree berry and look for the study done by New Bolton. It’s in a .pdf format.,d.eXY

No doubt the mini is IR. They all are and because of this it’s a really bad idea to turn a mini out with a TB precisely because of the huge difference in caloric requirements.

Nothing helpful to add, but I’ll read this thread with great interest for management ideas. I have a pony who is IR - he is just now recovering from laminitis. Although he is in good weight, he is a companion to my senior Arab who, like your TB, needs all the hay he can get.

Best of luck to you!

Drat! I was afraid of this. It does so complicate my life. I’ve had a heavey horse that had to have soaked hay and it most did me in in winter. I have to figure how to make this happen in my situation.
I wonder if a grazing muzzle will be enough to keep her out of trouble when she’s getting grass, which she did well on last year.
But thanks for the advice: I’m grateful for authoritative info to help me help this little mare that I do love.

Thanks for this info. Anyone like to buy a large, almost full tub of Chaste Tree Berry? Deep discount.
The first blood draw for ACTH was in late November, then another one month later with similar result.
She has some Cushings symptoms–hirsutism, difficulty shedding. She is plump but not cresty or potbellied; she is quite well muscled and probably exercises more than most minis–she is ponied about 2-3 days / week, and occasionally driven.
I guess if she is IR I should up the exercise. Am trying to figure out if she’ll be able to go out with her horse on grass if muzzled.
It also would be easier to muzzle her through the winter too than to separate her and feed soaked hay, but I need to read all the safergrass material and ponder the options.
Silly me! I always thought of a mini as an easier companion horse than another big one!


Silly me! I always thought of a mini as an easier companion horse than another big one![/QUOTE]

:wink: I have four minis and each one has a special need. Two need dental twice a year instead of once, one is neurologically challenged, one is IR and one has locking stifles.

So much for easy! hahahaha I wouldn’t trade them though. They are fantastic little horses.

It doesn’t work for a diabetic to just eat less of a cake and ice cream diet. It’s the same with IR ponies and high sugar hay. You cannot feed an IR pony hay that is appropriate for a hard keeping TB. You just can’t.
Sorry it’s not easy, or convenient. You might consider rescuing a skinny TB for a companion. Free choice hay for skinny horses is definitely easier for you.

Thanks so much for this info. Am bonded to this particular mini (have had her since she was 5 months old, rely sometimes on her to pony with us to places where TB gets nervous alone, drive her, use her to help load and settle TB in trailer, know all her itchy spots, etc. etc.) so will keep trying.
I would be able to separate them with a bit of work. I could also try to find low sugar hay accessible to both, then supplement just the tall one with a private meal of some richer hay cubes. Also, after my initial dismay at the prospect, I realize it is not much trouble to soak hay just for the mini, one flake at a time–much easier than for a big horse. I’ve also been looking for a way to keep the unsoaked hay up high out of reach of 8 1/2 hands. My Dover small mesh hay net drops quite a bit on the floor as its being pulled through the holes. I’m wondering if a Hay Pillow or Nibblenet could be hung so as to retain most of the contents and keep them out of reach.
Also wonder if there is a better grain than Purina Mini Horse and Pony, and if it’s worth switching if she just gets 1/3 cup, enough to hide the Prascend in.
Also wondering if she’ll be ok this warm season for night turnout on grass with the grazing muzzle that has worked in her previous 7 summers, of if further restrictions will be needed.
The connection of IR with Cushings is also a mystery to me and I wonder if the Prascend is helping her. She is a hairy beast, but is not cresty or potbellied.
Questions questions. Medical info, management hints much appreciated.
Perhaps I should start a new thread for ideas on TBs cohabiting with minis.

If IR is driven by Cushings, the Prascend should help. If IR is driven by inappropriate diet, then you have to change the diet.
I never used slow feeders, so can’t answer those questions. I just found the right hay and fed free choice.
I prefer hiding things in soaked alfalfa cubes. 3-4 should do the job.

To follow up: after less than one week of soaking hay for the mini, I saw her running and cavorting around her paddock, inciting her TB friend to race. Feet evidently feel pretty good!! I’m amazed and delighted!! Thank you, Katy Watts.
TB also likes soaked hay. I put his full sugar hay net inside his stall with bottom door closed, where he can reach in but she can’t, but he prefers sharing the soaked stuff in her hay net. I shut her in the stall at night so I don’t have to soak enough for 2.
I’m hoping the happy feet continue in the grass season, just using the grazing muzzle, which worked for her last year.

Just a thought - even though half a pill of Prascend should be a proper dose for her size, that may not be the case. I took care of a pony (14.1h) that required 4 pills per day. He started off at 1 pill/day, but over the years his ACTH numbers showed he was not well controlled. Again, just food for thought.

Put TB’s hay in a container with high sides- like a rubbermaid trough.

That will work until you go outside and find the mini IN the trough.

It will be a good picture though.

Just a thought - even though half a pill of Prascend should be a proper dose for her size, that may not be the case. I took care of a pony (14.1h) that required 4 pills per day. He started off at 1 pill/day, but over the years his ACTH numbers showed he was not well controlled. Again, just food for thought.[/QUOTE]

I agree; dosage is not just dependent on size. Also, is there any evidence that Chaste Tree berry actually works? I thought it was pretty iffy last time I looked at it. (I have a Cushings pony as well). I’d be far more inclined to up the Prascend dose than hope that a supplement will do the job (especially if the pony won’t even eat it!).

If the Prascend did not help, then IMO the underlying issue is just plain IR, not Cushings. Sadly, some Vets still do not know that, although untreated Cushings can worsen underlying IR, not every IR horse has PPID aka Cushings. What tests were done to arrive at that ‘diagnosis’?

While advice here is always awesome, I really recommend joining the Equine Cushings and IR Yahoo Group. They have so much knowledge on this.

After her episode of laminitis the vet suggested testing for Cushings. The blood test showed ACTH of 69.9 and insulin of 104. She is also slow to shed out, though she eventually does. She does have good muscling-- not cresty or potbellied–but she is plump. She used to be anhidrotic, but has been sweating more recently.