Thursday, September 24, 2015

Harvey update: Recovery

Over Labor Day weekend, Harv had a laminitic episode. I was shocked, but I suppose I should not have been. Because he couldn't eat hay he got a large amount of senior feed, and I brought him sweet treats every day. Every day.  And while he didn't look like a Cushings horse, he tested positive for Cushings AND had high insulin levels.

How is he now?
Well, he's okay -- walking and turning well, no signs of pain, started on Pergolide. He has a "new diet" of low carb food.

Harv is hungry, though, and he has lost weight. This is tough on me and his caretakers --- he gets a paltry amount of food compared to what he used to get -- he always looks for more. And, he really can't eat hay with his worn-down teeth. We're gradually going to bump his feed back up, at least a little going into winter.

I was told to keep him off grass -- but I can't do it. He's 28, and this fall could be the last grass he ever eats. The pasture is hardly lush, and so far he's done okay.

While I'm glad Harv is doing better, I'm starting to count the cards stacked against him -- his age (28), his neurological issue, his teeth, and now Cushings and IR. If he can't keep up his weight, and his strength, I'm afraid he'll roll, or fall, and be unable to get up. The barn is not staffed, no telling when he'd be found.

The plan is to find a feeding program that will work for him, and retest for Cushings and IR in a few weeks. I'll be monitoring his recovery and hope that he'll be able to maintain his weight. Winter is coming.


  1. I think Ontario Dehy timothy balance cubes, soaked, and in winter able to be fed as a warm meal, might be a great option for him. I feed it to all mine instead of grain or senior feed and he could eat a lot of it - you can use it as a hay replacement. Mine love it. It smells wonderful and it's easy to eat if soaked. Lots and lots of good info on too.

    1. Yes - second soaked cubes. You can mix them with (no molasses) beet pulp for a tasty and weight gain inducing mash. Supplementing magnesium helps with the Cushings symptoms too - more info about that in the link billie gave above. You can manage this. :D

  2. Their is an awesome but pricey Seminole feed that is very low in NSCs. It compares ingredient wise to TV Senior but is much lower in sugar and higher in fat. It might be a good choice combined with a low sugar beet pulp like speedi beet to replace his senior feed. I really feel for you and know that you are an amazing horse parent even with the hard choices.

  3. Using Purina Senior feed, alfalfa cubes and hay on my old guy. He too is on Pergolide for Cushings and getting the weight on is difficult. Usually I don't have much grass, but this year with all the early rain, there was a lot.

    He had two bouts of laminitis before we found the Cushings. So far on the Prascend, so good.

    I second the suggestion of the soaked hay cubes...if he will eat them. My guys get picky sometimes when I wet the feed down.

  4. Or soaked hay pellets such as hay stretcher. This has been keeping weight on my hardkeeper for a while now.

  5. Ask your vet about the various soaked options--pellets, cubes, etc. Excellent for the elders with few teeth and as several posters have suggested, the mush can be dressed up with other soft and tasty bits to keep Harv happy.

  6. Glad to hear he's doing better. I feed grainless myself (my horse is a cob, no issues yet, I just wanted to see if he might do better on a grainless diet, energy wise) and we have quite a few EMS and Cushing horses at the barn on different diets, some get to go out on grass a bit as well. Many of the grainless products we feed might not be availible to you but, in addition to what's mentioned above, what about rice bran? Most horses like it, it's great to put on weight and you can feed it soaked.

  7. It's always a balancing act! Wishing you the best of luck in finding a feeding program that works for Harv <3


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