Struggling with older horse in very cold temps

I have a 26 year old mare I love dearly who lives at home. She was a show hunter and then my daughter’s horse, and had a great broodmare career with me, happily delivering her final foal at age 23 (we had twice tried before to retire her from work/broodmare but she became demonstrably unhappy and carrying babies allowed her to be out on the grass without a muzzle-something she ABHORS.). She had been completely out of work for about 15 months (she had an eye removed a couple of winters ago that seemed to help ease her into complete retirement) and was trucking along happily until last summer when she started losing weight & topline at an astonishing rate. Tested for Cushings (had been tested 3x before due to heavy coat but tested negative, this time test came back @ 860, but not IR. Took a while to get results, by then she looked awful (for her.) Started on Prascend when results came back and while she had a hard time for the first month on the meds, (bellyaching, on & off feed, generally grumpy) and I seriously considered euthanizing her before winter, my wonderful vet helped me through it and after 90 days almost all of the weight was back on and she looked happy & ready for winter. All was well, until last week when it got really cold. She just stopped eating, whether outside or inside (she did seem to want to go out). Not colicky but bellyache-y, lots of rolling and grumpiness. My barn stays above freezing and even in there she was not eating much hay or grain, but still drinking & peeing regularly. It warmed up & she’s back to her sassy self, last night it was 20 degrees and she immediately slowed way down on eating. It does not make sense to me because there are four horses the the barn so it’s warm, she’s feels just right under her blanket. I have a call in to my vet, but has anyone dealt with cold weather food refusal? She’s normally a porker. Feeling extremely worried that I made a bad decision this fall. But on warm days (I would say above freezing) she is her queen bee self, screaming at the boys, even went for a nice canter in the paddock yesterday. She does have heated water outside and in. I’ve tried mashes which she usually loves. We are in Michigan so still will have cold snaps through March.

Maybe she wants to be more than just right under the blanket? I have a gelding who runs colder then other horses. I tend to blanket him 100g more than any other horse I’ve ever dealt with. He likes to be more than just cozy. He has KS and I think it just keeps his back that much warmer.

Just a thought :slight_smile:


I’d also add more blankets. Some horses just really prefer more warmth.

Can you switch her grain to something really yummy, and maybe give her alfalfa hay?


No advice on the cold weather snaps, other than similar to PP experimenting with heavier blanketing and seeing if that makes her more comfortable.

I have a friend who’s horse is recently on Prascend for cushings and seems to be having trouble with low appetite, grumpiness, general physical ‘unhappiness’. Do you mind sharing what you and your vet did to ease that transition with your mare?

1 Like

APF helps the Prascend veil. Smartpak, etc carries it. With respect to your mare, how about a neck cover?


Thank you so much! She’s in a heavy blanket with attached neck cover & has to be clipped even under her lighter blanket because she would sweat (new problem this year, usually only clip her in summer.) I will try adding another blanket and see how it goes!

In terms of the prascend, I had to gradually pull back and add more three times over the first month. She was losing muscle so suddenly & rapidly that stopping was not an option. My concern is that the cold weather behavior is new and similar to the initial prascend behavior, although I didn’t really make the connection until reading everyone’s responses. It’s like she’s fine and then she’s miserable. She does not have a painful look in her eye, just not herself at all. So I go back & forth between she’s got 10 more great years and why didn’t I let her go after I got her weight up this fall and the weather was beautiful and she was so happy. Because on the days she’s not eating, that is not how I pictured it ending. :cry: She is my best friend and deserves a peaceful end after a beautiful day on the grass… but that is a hard line to walk, I am finding. She still rolls, gets up and is in good body condition. 90% of the time she is happy as a clam. I am ordering the supplement suggested now!


we have a well over 40 year old pony, when he stops eating I get some iced oat meal cookies for him to add to his feed (well mash, that is a mix senior with alfalfa pellets mixed in heated water). I alter his feeds at various intervals just to make it something different for the lad.

He was supposed to have died about twenty years ago per our vet.


I know exactly which cookies you mean… I will try it!