Lady's cresty neck???

Donna Mire <dmire@...>

I had a pre-purchase exam done on a mare that has what I've been hearing others
call a 'cresty neck'. I am looking for more information about this. I've been
told it is a symptom of a thyroid problem; but then I've also read conflicting
information that it is not but rather it is seen in horses that have a
pituitary or endocrine problem (like Cushings syndrome).

I'd be interested in hearing about either or other reasons you may have had
experience with.

Lady is a 16 year old MFT and has had this for about 10 years. The 'extra' neck
along the crest appears to be fat. Although the vet didn't seem to think she
was over weight anywhere else and wasn't too concerned about it. She has not
had any signs of founder either. Other than her neck, my vet who did the
pre-purchase exam said she was pretty clean.

What type of tests can be run to see if she has Cushings disease?

The owner mentioned a few other things about Lady. She drinks alot of water,
takes longer to shed than her stablemate (but does shed out completely in the
summer), had been treated in the past for a chronic cough. I found the
following information about this in an article at

"Even before that characteristic hair coat appears, a horse with Cushing's
syndrome might demonstrate a host of other symptoms that are sometimes
overlooked or chalked up to old age.

The first symptom to appear generally is polydipsia (excessive thirst) coupled
with polyuria (excessive urination)--which might go unnoticed if the animal is
kept outside rather than stabled. Horses might go through as much as 80 liters
of water a day instead of the normal 20 to 30 liters. Other symptoms can
a swaybacked or potbellied appearance, increased appetite (generally with no
corresponding weight gain), loss of muscle over the topline, and chronic
laminitis. Horses with Cushing's syndrome become more susceptible to diseases
and infections due to a compromised immune system. They frequently suffer
bouts of respiratory disease, skin infections, foot abscesses, buccal (mouth)
ulcers and periodontal disease, and even infections of the tendon sheath or
joints. Wound healing is also noticeably slowed. ...

A hypothyroid horse often exhibits some of the same signs as a Cushing's
victim--delayed shedding of the winter coat, lethargy, retarded growth, and
healing. Unlike a Cushingoid horse, however, he will usually suffer a decrease
in appetite, but gain weight nonetheless, and he often develops a
characteristically thick, cresty neck. (Cushing's horses will often look
potbellied, but rarely gain much weight.) And while Cushing's horses usually
remain quite bright in attitude, a hypothyroid horse will strike one as

Thanks Donna
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