Welcome to the list. In order to help you the most we are going to need some more information about you and your girl. We ask that you sign your name (first is fine), general location and year of joining to your messages so we can direct you to local sources for products. The first thing we are going to need is for you to fill out a case history for your girl. This needs to be done on our sister site ECHistory8. You'll need to join but that should only take a minute. Then download the case history template, fill it out and upload. This puts all the relevant information in one, accessible location for the volunteers to access in order to answer your questions. Here is the link to ECH8:
Could you please be a bit more specific in what you mean by "ruled out the tumors that mares get" so we know exactly what was tested for. Was it possibly Polycystic Ovaries? Please include all tests that have been done so far, any blood work that has been pulled and the units of measure for the results. You can upload copies of all the test results into your file to make this easier for you.
The list follows a protocol of DDT/E, which is shorthand for Diagnosis, Diet, Trim and Exercise. It's is the basis for successfully managing your horse. We'll try to help you figure out what is going on in the shortest time and in the most economical way.
DIAGNOSIS: A horse can be IR only, PPID (Cushings) only, neither or both. Are her symptoms something new or has this been going on for some time? AT 8yo your girl is young to be considering PPID as a cause for her issues. IR, however, is a real possibility. Blood work is the way to test for IR. Have the vet draw a blood sample to be tested for Insulin, Glucose and Leptin. Sending to Cornell is recommended as they are the only lab capable of doing the leptin portion of the tests. The blood should be pulled from a NON-Fasting horse. Here is the link to Cornell's website. Have your vet contact them before doing the sampling to get the discount shipping labels they provide. To test for PPID you would need to have an ACTH test done. If the lameness issues have just started it MIGHT be early PPID due to the seasonal rise influence starting. Please have a read on our educational website for more in depth information:
Hair mineral analysis is an unreliable diagnostic tool for most situations due to the issue of contamination of the sample. It also can't tell you anything about what is currently happening but gives some indication of past issues. See this file for more info:
DIET: Is forage based, low fat/sugar/starch with the minerals balanced to the forage analysis. All feeds have excesses and deficiencies and the only way to know what they are is to test what the horse is currently consuming. Iron overload is rampant and will worsen many conditions, sodium deficiency is also quite common as the majority of hays are deficient in this mineral. Iodine and selenium, both important for the thyroid to function properly, tend to be in short supply in most areas as well. Potassium deficiency, unless the horse is working extremely hard, is going to be rare as all hay has an overabundance of it. Calcium and magnesium vary widely. Copper and zinc are generally deficient.
The symptoms of her head swelling and alternating lameness in her feet could possibly be related to calcium insufficiency, also known as Big Head (Bran) Disease. It is due to an imbalance in the calcium:phosphorus ration in the animal's feed. Highly recommended that you have your hay analyzed and then post the results here. We can help you understand the results and can assist in getting a balanced diet in place. In the meantime, we recommend that you start your girl on the emergency diet (ED) that you were sent when you joined. No pasture, no mineral blocks, no carrots/apples/sugary snacks, soak her hay before feeding, add salt, ground flax, vit E gelcaps with oil in them and magnesium per the amounts in the ED. Splitting her meals into at least 4 per day is advised. Small mesh haynets are a great way to stretch out the time it takes her to eat her allotted hay. Aim for 1.5% - 2% of her ideal bodyweight in total feed per day.
TRIM: Aimed at aligning the hoof capsule with the structures within. Low heels and toes backed. Boota and pads as needed to maintain comfort. Is she shod or barefoot? With the on-again/off-again lameness would recommend bare to facilitate making any trim changes that may be needed. Would encourage you to post pics of her feet in the Photos section of ECHistory8 so that the hoof gurus can help make sure her trim is optimized. A diagnosis of navicular is many times based on the vet not finding anything else to hang a diagnosis on. Here is a link on how to take good hoof photos:
EXERCISE: Best IR buster there is but never force a sore horse to move. Sounds like forced exercise would not be advised at this time until you have found the cause of her lameness and other issues.
Hang in there, we'll do all we can to help you get to the bottom of this. By the sounds of it, you are definitely NOT nuts and your girl is lucky to have such a caring and persistent owner.
Lavinia, Dante, George Too and Peanut
Jan 05, RI
EC Support Team