Blood Work Results

Remember when the equine dentist came and was concerned about Gemmie having Cushings? In her opinion, any horse over the age of 20 needs to be proven to not have it especially one that is on pasture 24/7 and is erm…a little portly.

It took a while for the hubby to get in contact with the rep from the company offering free testing, but eventually it got done and the blood was drawn for that plus Coggins. Hubby went ahead and ran the test on Pete too because he is 30 and it was free. Pete’s came back 100% normal in all regards. That guy is a tank. Gem’s, well her’s came back a bit meh. I

Facebook reminded this morning that it was 2 years ago today that Gem and I did our first and only CT

Her Cushings values all were normal, so no Cushings though right now I’d have preferred that as a diagnosis. It is really easy to manage with Prascend and the hubby can order it through work. Life doesn’t always give you the answers you want though.

While those results were normal, her insulin was at 70, normal is 40, and her glucose was up as well though I do not know that value off the top of my head. Neither were impressively high, but they certainly weren’t normal either. These results point to EMS and the recommendation was to retest in 6 months. Dusty is reaching out to the equine dentist for her opinion on the results (she was a full care equine vet before reducing down to acupuncture/chiro and dental only). In the meantime, I started my own research and picking of the brain.

I can;t wait until Eeyore and I are ready to go out and show. I miss it.

EMS is Equine Metabolic Syndrome is basically Type 2 Diabetes in horses. Increased fat cells make the body resistant to insulin so the pancreas pumps more out to get a response and serum glucose levels remain elevated. The biggest risk is laminitis. Gem is over weight but she is more like a 7.5 or 8 on the BCS, not obese like most of the ponies and horses I saw online with the condition, but she is also pretty low on the test values. In general treatment is aimed at lifestyle changes much like it humans with early and mild Type 2 diabetes: eat less sugar and exercise more.

The recommendation is for grain to be under 10% NSC and I immediately checked her bag of feed when I got home yesterday. It is 12.8% but is a ration balancer and she gets maybe 1 pound total a day. Math makes my head hurt, but after doing some figuring she gets extremely little in her feed, so we are good there. I’ve not had her hay tested, but she also hasn’t had any hay since the grass started coming in several months ago, so that is an avenue I’ll explore come the end of summer/early fall. It should be ok from preliminary research as she gets a fescue/bermuda mix and that is pretty low in general.

She wasn’t too shabby at the dressage thing

Her biggest nemesis is the grass under her feet and the fact that she is retired. Right now the grass is basically yellow straw from the high heat, constant blazing sun and no rain in weeks. It is literally crunching under our feet. A grazing muzzle may be in her future but that is my last resort. I know plenty of people use them and that is fine. I personally hate them. I hate anything on a horse’s face in pasture with others, it is a safety risk, plus they screw up their teeth something fierce. It is better than laminitis though, so we will see if I have to go down that route. I’ll do it before I let her hooves go to crap, but I think tackling her exercise and weight is a better option.

The recommendation here is to exercise 30 minutes 2-3 times a week. Get those extra…erm 100….pounds off and get the body responding to itself better. Except this is me we are talking about here and there is always an issue. Time. I barely get the time to ride Eeyore, my hopeful competition horse, ridden 2-3 times a week for 30 minutes. There is no way I can sneak in 6 rides a week total. Won’t happen. Hard stop.

She looked so pretty all braided up and in white

This is where I wish I was in a boarding situation with a big barn rat population of kids dying to get on anything that can move. It would be easy to find enough butts to w/t/c her around or hack her out (her specialty) for 30 minutes or so a few times a week. Instead I may need to get creative on finding some warm butts to do it for me. I worry about the liability and will need to check with my insurance company to see if I need to add anything to the policy to cover myself in case someone comes to ride her and gets hurt. She is pretty safe, but she isn’t point and shoot simple and you just never know with horses. Having someone come out would also only work while we are also home. We do not own a boarding facility, this is our private home, and I would not be comfortable with them coming when I wasn’t around. It will be a bit tricky, but hopefully the right person or person’s come out of the wood work to ride a horse for free a few days a week.

I believe that if I can get her back to a shape other than round, that her blood work will return to the normal range without anything drastic happening. There are two medications that can be tried but the research all highly recommends lifestyle changes first. Metformin, a human diabetes medication, can reduce intestinal resorption of glucose therefore helping reduce intake though it seems to have little benefit overall. Levothyroxine, a medication for hypothyroidism, has shown some benefit in increasing metabolism and helping to shed the pounds. Its interesting, to a geek like me with medical stuff anyway, in that there are no reported cases in hyperthyroidism with use. I would rather not go down either of those paths at the moment.

So…first we will be retesting in 6 months to see where her values lie. In the meantime, the summer grass is poor quality, she already gets no grain and what she does get in a balancer is low NSC, they are not eating hay at the moment (it is always available in their stalls but they ignore it when the grass is in), and she will be pulled from retirement much to her chagrin so she can lose those pesky 100 lbs she has gained from living the life of luxury.

We didn’t make that bad of a team

If anyone has any suggestions as to finding a rider to come exercise her a few days a week , I am all ears. Not being a part of a barn family does hurt in a lot of ways sometimes.

25 thoughts on “Blood Work Results”

  1. Well that sucks! Definitely see what a vet says about the blood work/a management plan.

    May wears a muzzle because she would literally die without one. We have gotten her weight to the point where she can go out without one when the sugar content of the grass isn’t too high. She has never had any problem with the other horses in her field (a mini, an older mare, and 2 younger mares), but she is one that mostly just avoids conflict.

    I am interested in seeing more reviews about the new thinline muzzle, since it isn’t such a hard material.


    1. The hubby is a vet and has a lot of knowledge and he isn’t worried about her low positive levels. I’m more anxious about this kind of stuff than he is. He reached out to the equine dentist though and we are waiting to hear what she has to say about it. She thinks a lot like he does so we trust her a lot.

      I know muzzles aren’t the worst and if that ends up being her best bet then I will find something that works for her. If exercising her a few times a week prevents it then I’d prefer that. It would be healthier for her overall that way. We will see what I can come up with.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Jiminy wears a muzzle because as a mini he’d die without one. Certain times of year, he wears one to eat hay. He’s 1000% fine with it. He hates the best friends muzzle but has no issue with the tough1 easy breathe muzzle. He doesn’t fight me at all. Batty wears one on grass 2/3 of the season too (he’s fine with the best friends muzzle).

    Muzzles aren’t the enemy though I understand this sucks!!! Jiminy has taught me horses can eat anything through a muzzle (including hay and whole apples). He gets remission when he starts getting really fat and cresty but isn’t currently on it.


  3. Could Gem be put on pasture board where your new trainer is, and maybe be used in some w/t lessons to pay for her keep there? Or maybe your trainer could recommend one of her other students that could come out and ride her for you.


    1. Those are good suggestions. I’d hate for her to leave the farm though. I know I’m being a bit difficult…she has been with me for a decade and finally got to come home! It would be a shame to move her. I will contact AB though and see if she has any connections. That is a great idea and I hadn’t thought of it yet.


  4. In humans, it turns out that poor microbiome in their guts is a factor in developing diabetes and metabolic syndrome. I don’ t know how much data there is on horses and I have concerns about over-supplementing the trace minerals in Remission if the horse ends up eating it over a long period of time, but there are other equine products out there that include varieties of probiotics that actually help horses metabolize their food correctly- they should include aspergillis, saccharomyces and trichoderma.
    Making sure that the product has live cultures of the right stuff takes some searching, but the right one may help tip the scales in your favor especially in cases like yours where the horse has a reasonable diet, room to move and their pasture mate in the same circumstances has no problem.


    1. Thanks for the info!! I will look into her feed. I know Tribute makes a version of what she is already on (Essential K) that has added probiotics for senior gut health. I think it is called Essental K CG or something. I will research that and see if switching her would be better. yeah, Pete is completely normal in all values and he gets the same feed and pasture. She has a ton of room to move around and they do use the entire space to graze throughout the day, but apparently it isn’t enough. Thank you so much for the info!


  5. Not surprised the Arab needs to burn more energy. I think going thru your trainer is a good idea, hopefully it will help weed out weirdos. Can u pony her from H’Appy? Not like your whole ride but maybe just 15min or something as you warm up or at end?


  6. Ugh I’m sorry that sucks! Honestly the muzzle is definitely the easiest solution here even if it’s not your preference. Izzy wore one and was fine with it, and nothing else worked as well at controlling her weight.


  7. That is too bad. She may begin to drop weight anyway with the grass being so poor. Good luck finding someone. It is not easy – I know from personal experience.


  8. Gracie has had to wear a grazing muzzle almost every summer that I’ve owned her, despite regular work. (We’re going on 5 years together now.) I like to keep my horses at a 5 BCS; in the winter I let her gravitate closer to a 6-7 for insulation so I don’t have to blanket her, but I take the weight off when the grass grows back.

    The muzzle has not been the end of the world for her, and she *is* a very smart mare that will develop strong opinions about anything that keeps her from eating. She learned that placing the muzzle = a treat, which made her start to look forward to it. She’d only wear it half the time (only at night or only during the day) and I’d remove it if it was going to rain. I have it attached to a breakaway safety halter with a leather crown in case she does get stuck with the halter/muzzle, she can break free from it. I also attached sheepskin liners to the nose of the halter to keep it from rubbing. It’s worked beautifully. This mare hates things on her face: I can’t keep fly masks on her. But she has no issue with the muzzle, and it does make a significant difference in her weight while still allowing her to graze 24/7. (She continues to be on pasture board, so she does not come into a stall ever.)

    Note: dried grass = stressed grass and can actually be higher in sugar than green pasture. Ex: the gosh-awful crappy locally-grown coastal hay we could purchase in Florida was higher in NSC than the lovely fragrant timothy our same feed store imported from out of state. (I had a diagnosed IR horse at the time and had to do the whole low NSC feed & hay hunt. He was on tested low-sugar timothy.) You can have your grass tested just to make sure.

    Also: I can’t not share this. 🙂 When it came to managing an IR horse, this website and this vet’s research were a godsend: https://www.ecirhorse.org/Eleanor-Kellon.php Dr. Eleanor Kellon is the leading researcher of both insulin resistance and equine Cushing’s in the world, and she has all sorts of info on diet modification, hoof maintenance, lifestyle changes, and general management of horses with either or both of these metabolic conditions.


      1. I use the Best Friends muzzle. I like that it has Velcro tabs to attach to your halter of choice, with a little locking device on each tab to keep them in place. Also means that the part of the muzzle that directly touches the horse’s nose is nylon, not hard plastic. The rest of the muzzle *is* plastic, so it’s a lot harder for them to break/rip/tear it.

        I’ve had that thing for 5 years and it’s truly taken a beating (my first year with Gracie, I had her wearing it for part of the winter as well because she was so fat), but it’s still going strong. One of the little Velcro tabs doesn’t really stick anymore but it has not compromised the integrity of the muzzle at all. https://www.sstack.com/best-friend-grazing-muzzle/p/13847/

        I also second the Safe Grass website Amanda mentioned in her comment below.


  9. That sucks. Do you have trails or anything to ride on near you? I had good luck finding leasers for Dijon even though he couldn’t do more than walk and a bit of trot. Lots of people liked to do 2 days a week of pony time and go for a ride in the woods. Finding someone who wants to just bop around the arena is going to be harder. But you might be surprised. I even found someone to ride Dijon a bit when he was in walk rehab and could only walk in endless boring circle around the arena. She just really missed horses and riding and I was offering a free opportunity.


    1. No real trails worth mentioning. I see posts all the time of horseless people just wanting horse time any way they can get it. I’m hopeful I can find someone. She is sound and able to jump and do w/t/c so someone could have a lot of fun with her. Plus I’d let them take her trails or hunter paces with me


  10. I’ve never been successful at finding people to ride Tristan even when I’ve been part of a barn community so I’m no help there, but – I did want to say that “stressed” brown grass can actually have a higher sugar content than lush pasture. There’s an awful lot of good reading at this website: http://www.safergrass.org/articles.html. It’s worth a thought anyway, and might keep you from having to do a grazing muzzle if you can use that info to plan.


    1. I’m going to try that. It may work for both of them. She will get some exercise and he will get more used to working hills in the field. I wish Wyatt rode. He has no interest. Liz pointed out to me that I’m having the horse crazy Swedish girl coming for the year in August which I sorta forgot about so that’s an option too


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