By Dan Roark

The reason Sharla was clipping Libby during the Farrier’s visit was due to Libby having equine Cushing’s disease, as I mentioned in the Farrier post.

Cushing’s disease, whether in humans or horses, involves the pituitary gland and is generally found in the female species of both.  The effects, however, while both are hormonal, are distinctly different.

Equine Cushing’s disease is more correctly known as PPID. [I’ll spare you the actual words. If you know, you know…] Suffice it to say that the pituitary gland is a gland at the base of the brain that produces hormones in response to brain signals. When those brain signals go wonky (my term) due to PPID and the damage controlling inhibition is lost, there is an excessive production of  hormones from the pituitary which enter the circulation and affect the whole body.

I was talking to Sharla while she was clipping Libby during the farrier’s visit. She was explaining that she was clipping Libby because, as a result of Cushing’s, Libby grew more hair, but couldn’t shed during the summer.

My precise words were “well, that sucks! Giving a horse more hair, but taking away the ability to shed is just cruel!”

And it is, but that’s the nature of life. Including life in the little universe we call New Hope. The other symptoms of equine Cushing’s – other than the increased coat length and failure to shed – include weight loss, increased drinking and urination, lethargy, laminitis, and increased sweating – which doesn’t help with the whole not being able to shed situation. Horses (whether they be mares, ponies, or geldings) affected by Cushing’s are also more susceptible to infections such as sinusitis, skin infections and parasitism.

Some owners will choose not to treat the disease, but simply manage the symptoms and change the diet. Depending on the severity of the disease, that may be all one can do. But when one has a herd of therapy horses continually involved in equine-assisted therapy, sometimes that is not only treating the disease, but it is all one can do. Fortunately, here at New Hope, we have Kim Martin as barn manager who stays on top of symptoms with all the horses, which can change daily. Which is why we’re glad to have Dr. Jennifer Voellinger to call and be able to depend on her competent diagnosis. And Wyatt, Joey, and Rylee to keep the horses shod and their hoofs and legs healthy. In particular, Libby gets two Prascend pills a day, which, at $2.50 a pill, her Cushing’s costs alone reach $1000 a year to treat it. She also takes powdered Levothyroxine to help with the symptoms. [Donate link below – just sayin’.]

In the meantime, when the weather gets hotter – and it will, unfortunately – and we give the horses showers, you can bet Libby will be first in line and then get back in line hoping we forget she was first.

Update on Libby – here.

Ride on and ride for hope

Donate to New Hope.

Venmo – @NewHopeEquineAssistedTherapy

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