Buttercup blood work question

Pamela Bramell

Haven't posted in a while, everybody has been doing great.  Buttercup had a laminitic episode about 6 or 7 months ago.  Had been on a low sugar/starch diet, etc.  I had introduced some hay from a place I hadn't used before.  It was about 60 bales from October through March.  That's not really a lot since I go through at least 2 bales a day based on the weather.  So I chocked Butters laminitic (very mild, can see it now that her hooves have grown out)  to high sugar/starch hay.  In the meantime, Story, my IR fox trotter had no issues what-so-ever with the hay.  She's super sensitive to sugar, her crest gets hard within 24 hours of too much sugar.  Her crest had been soft throughout the time Butters was having a laminitic episode.  I know, not scientific, but that's one of my barometers. 

Buttercup has had some fat pads develop on her butt about 4 months ago.  Over the last 6 weeks every once in a while her eyes are goopy.  Today it looks like she's getting fat pads on her shoulders.  The last time her IR was bad she had goopy eyes, enlarged teats and swollen eye orbs.  She never had any fat pads.  She's in her late 20's by our best guess.  Had her ACTH drawn in 2012 and it came back at 13.1.  I just went and looked at the results again and realized the vet drew the blood on 5/21 and Cornell received it on 5/30.  It has now come to my attention that this vet isn't very detail oriented.  If the blood was handled incorrectly would the ACTH result be artificially lower?  Just wondering for myself.  Another vet that is on top of things is coming out in 2 weeks to draw ACTH, insulin and leptin.  Just wondering if this was brewing a few years ago and I didn't catch it because the blood wasn't handled correctly.

Getting the hay retested just to make sure.  Been using the same hay since 2010 and stopped testing a few years ago, always came back under 5% sugar/starch. 

Yep, got lax and here I am.  On the other hand, Story (IR), Frosty (cushings) and Shaqiraj (arab cross pony IR waiting to happen) are doing well.  That's why I think Butters may be cushings now.  Curious about the blood work from 2 years ago, thankfully no founder, etc right now.  I am returning to the basics, DDTE. 

Pam in Va with Butters/Story/Shaqiraj/Frosty

case history has to be updated.  Today was the first time I was able to access it for a really long time.  Not sure why that is.


Re: Weight taping question

corrine haffner


I took jasper up to the saw mill scale today,he'd been weight taping at 1,130,tape place the same, standing on level ground and standing square. Weight scale he weighed in at 1,070 so weight tape was higher then scale.

Corrine & Jasper
MN 4/2014

Re: Weight taping question

Kerry Isherwood

Landfill scale = genius!!

Kerry in NY
Sept 14

Re: Weight taping question


Thank you, Renee & Kerry, for the feedback.

 I guess 973 may not be far off the mark then.  He is tall as Arabs go -15.2 - due to those high withers.  Obviously the smart thing to do is to haul both horses up to the landfill and weigh them; I can compare it to the tape method and at least have an idea of how close the tape numbers are.  Good idea to use the same place to stand them in for taping each time and I will pay attention to their posture & tape placement.

I will keep an eye on the ACTH from here on out...even if he went out of range due to the blood draw stress, it seems likely that he was probably close to the high end of normal anyway.  I think he has to be at least compensated IR, despite the vet's reporting that glucose and insulin were "normal".  He had all the classic signs, which went away when I started the groups' diet protocol and eliminated most of his pasture access.  

Still anxiously awaiting the actual G/I numbers....

Jill in Idaho
December 2010

Re: How to find things in the ECIR Group. Save this post.

Roger and Carol Watkins <WATKINS@...>

Dear Group,
I am simply not computer savy enough to submit my proper information but I do want to put Beatles numbers in the data base so I will post them here..... In October of 2014 Beatle (20 year plus Shetland pony) was tested for ACTH and his number was 1133pg/ml. This group suggested 3mg pergolide per day. I retested last month and his ACTH number was 36.3! He is still shedding out, but the hair that is coming in is straight and shiny. Prior to shedding he looked like a poodle! He seems to be happier and even nickers to me when I come in the barn and will sometimes trot to the barn when his time outdoors (with grazing muzzle) is over. I have a friend who has cushings horses and when I told her that Beatles dose of Pergolide was 3mg she said that sounded very high. She told her vet and he was alarmed and said he had never heard of such a high dose. So I began to doubt and wonder if I was doing the right thing AND I WAS - thanks to this group. My farrier does not think that Beatles sore feet are caused by a problem in his feet, but rather maybe in his shoulders and hips. Finding another farrier is simply not an option for a variety of reasons. I have questions - where do I go from here - but will post another time. I did try to fill out a new case history last week and it never showed up. Yahoo groups used to be so easy to use. Why to the computer gurus have to change things that are working just fine.
Carol and Beatle in Wisconsin

Re: Need Picky Eater's list info

Sharon Manning

This is my story also. This is how I did it. I just gave the odtbc at about half amount so she was good and hungry. I found feeding less volume helped cause she was more hungry. If that went down, then I added the additions back one at a time at 1/4 the dose. I found some where acceptable and several were not so I fed her what she would eat and slowly added in the ones she wouldn't and over time she is eating everything except flax. I now give her the flax in caps ( like vit E caps) on top with a handle full of TClite or sabul. The caps go down the hatch.

Sent from my iPhone
Please forgive any errors

Re: Equine Science Laminitis Plus


Sorry about the typo - should be "nitric oxide"

Jaini and crew

Re: Equine Science Laminitis Plus


Hi, Virginia, and welcome to the list!  This will be a two-part reply - the first part will directly address your question about the Equine Science Laminitis Plus, the second (very long) part will be about IR.

Here is the website for Equine Science :

They are correct, in that initiating the nitrous oxide cascade can assist with blood flow and chronic laminitis.  However, the claims made for the products scream "Marking" and "Snake Oil" to me. The articles under their "Science" tab are either not directly applicable to their product, or are poorly executed (the gastric ulcer paper)

There is no magic bullet for IR and laminitis.  Your vet is absolutely correct to start with hay soaking as a first step, (okay, that might be pretty close to a magic bullet), but there is a lot more you can do to keep your new mare healthy. There is a ton of information in the files of this group, and on the informational website:


It may seem overwhelming at first, but once you get your head around it, it is a cost-effective and relatively simple way of horse-keeping that will optimize the health of your horses.

Long part:

Firstly, Andalusians are poster children for IR, as well as other easy-keeper breeds such as Arabs, Morgans, mustangs, ponies and so on.

To be double sure we are answering your questions correctly, we need a little more information. Please take a few minutes and join EC History 8:

Follow the instructions to download a case history template; then fill it out, save it to your computer, and upload it into the EC History 8 files section (make a folder, first, with your name on it)

The list philosophy is Diagnosis, Diet, Trim, and Exercise.

Diagnosis is by blood tests: blood should be pulled from a non-fasting horse (or pony) in a quiet barn; blood spun, separated, and frozen or chilled asap, then sent to the lab at Cornell on ice. Ask for insulin, glucose, leptin and ACTH (ACTH is to check for Cushings or PPID - please ask for it if your horse is 9 years or older)

More information here:

and here:

Diet is supremely important, in some ways more for what is not fed: no pasture, sweet feeds, oats/grain, carrots, apples, iron-containing supplements. Diet consists of grass hay or haylage, with ESC (soluble sugars) and starch of less than 10%, plus minerals balanced to the forage, plus vitamin E, salt, and flaxseed or flaxseed oil. One can use a carrier of beet pulp (rinsed, soaked, and rinsed) as a safe feed to get the supplements in. The Temporary Emergency Diet uses hay soaked for 1 hour in cold water, or 30 minutes in hot water, with the water drained where the horses can't get at it; plus vitamin E, salt, and ground flaxseed in a safe carrier such as beet pulp (rinsed, soaked, rinsed).

More info on Temporary Emergency Diet here:

Trim: This is a trim physiologically balanced to the internal shape of the coffin bone, with short toe and low heels. Trim is often a neglected or mis-understood piece of the puzzle.

Exercise: This is the best EMS buster there is, but only if the pony/horse is comfortable and non-laminitic. A horse that has suffered laminitis needs a good 6 to 9 months of correct hoof re-growth before any kind of serious exercise can begin.

Give us a little more information; ask any and all questions. Please sign your posts with your name, date of joining and general location (Equine Science is an American product, so I assume you are in the US)

Jaini (BVSc),Merlin,Maggie,Gypsy
BC 09
ECIR mod/support


---In EquineCushings@..., <zorra08@...> wrote :

Anyone have any experience with this product?  My new Andalusian mare has IR and 3/4 oz twice a day of this product was recommended by my vet along with hay soaking.  

Re: giving a fig newton to IR horse

Sharon Manning

After many years of trying everything that has been thought of,except this one idea, I syringed her pergolide in her dear picky mouth as easy as pie. I added a couple drops of liquid stevia just for my benefit in case the drug is bitter. Why oh why have I not done this before?? Gezzz I am as stubborn as she! How easy! Even if she starts to refuse this new way I have no qualms halterning her and giving it. Right now I just take her chin in my left hand and standing on her right, with my right hand, into the side of her mouth and up toward the back. two small pushes empties the small 12 cc syringe half full of her dissolved meds and the constant battle of trying to stay one step ahead of her constantly changing taste and moods is now over.
I think I have battle fatigue ... feeling slightly foolish I have not tried this before.
So all who has a picky eater, give it a go.

Sent from my iPhone
Please forgive any errors

Re: Weight taping question


Hi Jill,

Yes, the upset from the needle poke can cause ACTH level to test a little higher than actual.

Regarding weight taping - I use a weight tape on the first day of each month for each horse in my barn.  I do this because when you see a horse everyday, you become conditioned to the changes and you can't always notice increases or decreases in weight. 

For my purposes I do not necessarily need an accurate weight.  It's close enough.  My goal is to get a consistent measurement merely so I know if the horse is staying the same, increasing or decreasing.  I keep a chart with 4 to 6 months of weight tape history on each horse.  It's very easy to do and helps me with diet portions and management.

To make your comparisons meaningful, always place the weight tape in exactly the same place.  I always place it directly behind the front legs and measure to the highest point on the wither.  I make sure the horse is standing fairly square on level ground with the head up in a natural position.  By placing the tape consistently in the same place I know how that horse's weight compares to that same horse's weight in the months prior. 

Renee’ from Texas, member since 2008

EC member Primary Response Team

Re: Ford's hoof pix

Lavinia Fiscaletti

Hi Fran,

Definitely use boots/pads as needed whenever a horse is sore. You can add pads to the Old Macs - anti-fatigue matting from the hardware store, actual hoof pads of some sort, whatever works. The key is to find what is going to make your horse comfortable at this point in time. Also keep in mind that what works this week may change next week - it's an evolving process.

"Xray RF DP": If you look closely at the surface of the block where the hoof is, it appears as if the foot may have been too close to the edge and part of it was overhanging the block rather than resting squarely on it. If so, that would have influenced the way the leg was bearing weight so it's something to keep in the back of your mind when evaluating the joint spaces. It is an added variable to consider. As the joint spaces on that side are still compressed, I'd say it still means the wall length on that side is longer than it should be.

"LF lateral": Correct. You want to entirely remove the toe in front of the purple line by rasping from the top, perpendicular to the current angle of the wall. Do not remove the area highlighted by the blue line - it will grow out on it's own as the hoof continues to grow down as long as the horizontal toe length is maintained correctly. That blue line is a visual to follow to the ground to show where the toe should end. Check this pic for an idea:

"RF dorsal": Starting about 2/3 of the way down from the coronary band, rasp the area aggressively, gradually beveling the bottom inward so at ground level the outer wall doesn't make ground contact. This will relieve the tearing forces on the fault and deflect concussive forces away from the compromised sections of the wall. As the hoof flexes when in use, a vertical "fault" (crack between horn tubules) will become a point around which the flexion occurs because the tubules run vertically. This puts more strain on the fault and it will continue to split upward into the coronary band, which in turn means it may disrupt new hoof growth and compromise the wall structure as it is being laid down. Long toes are a flare in the front of the foot but the forces they endure cause the wall to want to fold in a horizontal direction rather than a vertical one. As the tubules are vertical, these forces tend to bend them in half rather than split them apart resulting in tearing apart of the laminar connections and wedge formation.

"Judiciously rasping heels": Ford's coffin bones are sitting more ground parallel than is optimal for him. His heel buttresses are further forward than they should be so need to be moved rearward. The only way to do that is to rasp the surface of the heel-bar junction level further rearward than it currently is. Technically, this will lose some height (no way to avoid it) but one or two passes with the rasp will drop it minimally. Then, use a hoof knife to remove narrow slivers between the outer wall and the inner bar material in the area that was just rasped flat to find the sole that is trapped underneath. This creates a narrow valley between the two without lowering them anymore. The process is repeated every 1-2 weeks until the heel buttresses have been moved back even with the widest part of the frog. The key is to make small, frequent adjustments using Ford's comfort as the guide to how much to do in any one session. Every horse will be different. Remember that hoof grows continually so the aim is to set up and maintain a "template" of sorts that guides the hoof into growing in correctly.


Lavinia, Dante, George Too and Peanut
Jan 05, RI
EC Support Team




Re: Metformin, addendum

Kathy Brinkerhoff

Hi Kerry,

Have you updated your CH for both horses with diet fed and symptoms that you have observed corresponding to you frequent blood work test results so that we may follow along?

I find it difficult to follow your horses' history through Board posts.  

Thank you,

Kathy Brinkerhoff

SE/WI  10/12

Equine Science Laminitis Plus

Virginia Hunt

Anyone have any experience with this product?  My new Andalusian mare has IR and 3/4 oz twice a day of this product was recommended by my vet along with hay soaking.  

Re: Metformin, addendum

Kerry Isherwood

I should clarify that I am professionally a licensed vet tech with a curious (neurotic) nature -- that is how/why I am able to frequently submit blood samples on my IR horses, not bc Im a rich a__-hole demanding bloodwork on a whim from my browbeaten vet -- ok that last bit is a lie, my husband is my vet...and he's most definitely brow-beaten. 

Kerry, LVT, in NY
Sept 14

Re: Metformin

Kerry Isherwood

....."We put him on Metformin right away and ... his insulin came back at 39.55, which is just at the top of the normal range. ".....

>>> Cheri,
each lab has different standards of "normal" -- Im assuming you were using Cornell, as their "normal" insulin range is up to 40uU/mL (also assuming, here, you mean 'uU/mL' as a unit of measure?)

I would be careful in considering what is "normal" insulin, at least until you have done enough testing on your horse to learn what his/her "normal" is, as it often does not coincide with what the lab dictates as "normal".  For example, I have done numerous insulin/glucose lab tests on my IR/PPID mare over the last two years and I have found that on strict diet/good exercise her insulin usually maintains in the lower 20s uU/mL, but she routinely becomes tender-footed at high 20s or above.  For most of her 20 years of life she lived with mild hoof pain that I was not aware of until truly her IR was controlled...and I felt what being truly pain-free was for her under tack (happily clomping over rocks barefoot).  My IR gelding, whom I do not have as much lab data on as yet, appears to be sound until his insulin reaches the 40's threshold (again, uU/mL), whereby fetlock pulses become pronounced and his behavior takes an abrupt turn for the worse.  His is clinically laminitic when his insulin reaches the 70s (uU/mL) which mercifully, has only happened once.  (I have the "luxury" of running bloodwork frequently and often during crises to try to establish data trends on my IR horses -- it is my experiment, though, and not necessarily a protocol endorsed by ECIR). 

So while lab numbers definitely help gauge the status of our IR horses, they are but one piece of the overall picture of health, as i'm sure you know (but as I'm unfamiliar with your CH, I can only assume you're aware of the vastness of this statement).  Furthermore, metformin is still considered a "rescue drug" for IR and used alone should not be considered adequate or even proper treatment, as its not addressing or eradicating the underlying cause of a horse's IR syndrome.  Its merely lowering insulin by its pharmaceutical effects, and as i understand, its action is often short-lived, unfortunately.  I do keep a bottle of metformin on hand but it remains a last-ditch (ie, rescue) measure in my arsenal of combating IR in my two.  God help me, I never have to use it. 

Mods/Dr Kellon please correct me if my graphic understanding of metformin use is misconstrued.  And Cheri, please accept my apologies if you already know all of this -- I'm bumbling along just like everyone else, hoping to keep the IR triggers at bay for one more day.

...."To say I'm happy in an understatement!"....

>>> Do allow yourself to revel for a few seconds, but never, ever let your guard down.  I've been kicked in the gut too many times by IR, and always when im confident things are going well.  IR is a viciously insidious affliction.  

Best of luck,

Kerry in NY

Sept 2014

Re: Need Picky Eater's list info

Nancy C

Hi Deborah   

Here is link to Picky Eater's checklist

Equine Cushings and Insulin Resistance


See second doc down.

Nancy C in NH
ECIR Moderator 2003
Please join us at the 2015 NO Laminitis! Conference, Georgetown TX, November 6-8, 2015

Guest Speakers


---In EquineCushings@..., <deborah_ide@...> wrote :

I checked the files for a "picky eater's list" that I thought I remembered seeing

Need Picky Eater's list info

Deborah Ide

My horse Tara has stopped eating her ODTBC/flax/mineral mix. I increased the ODTBC as I increased the flax/mineral mix but she is consistently not eating much of it at all. I checked the files for a "picky eater's list" that I thought I remembered seeing but can't find it and the one I do find mentioned (at Witchy Lady Creations) does not connect to a website. Does anyone have any thoughts on safe flavor additives I may add to her food in hopes of enticing her to eat it?

Deborah in CT

Nov 2012


Cheri McDermott

My horse HeathBar's insulin test in March came back with insulin at 87.    Three months before that it was 81.

We put him on Metformin right away and tested him again June 29th... his insulin came back at 39.55, which is just at the top of the normal range.  So that is a drop of almost 40 points over the three months he has been on it.

I won't give the dose because it is unique to each horse.

We also started soaking his hay after testing it and seeing that it was 12.8 NSC.

To say I'm happy in an understatement!

Cheri McDermott

Re: Jasper's New hoof pictures are posted.( Sole pics posted now.)

corrine haffner

Hi Lavinia

Got sole pictures posted,had to be fast with camera only had a second to snap picture and he was done holding up feet. Also have picture of swollen fetlocks and a full body pic of him.

Noticed he's got sheath swelling again.

Re: giving a fig newton to IR horse

Nancy C

Hi LJ and all,

A great resource for finding out how bad or good a food is, especially human foods, is

Using USDA figures, this independent web site allows you to see carbs, proteins, omegas, minerals and more.

Here's the link to Fig cookies showing 7 grams of sugar

Nutrition Facts and Analysis for Cookies, fig bars


Googling Fig Newtons came up with similar sugar content.

Package labels will give you same info.


Using to compare foods recommended here is helpful too. One recommendation, a single grape, hiding the pill would have less than one gram of sugar.

You could maybe cut the fig newton in half or thirds and get two - four grams of sugar, however how he would react to this would take monitoring.

Nancy C in NH
ECIR Group Moderator 2003

The nutrient content of the bulk of the equine diet — pasture and hay — is often not considered. The 2015 NO Laminitis! Conference will explore the benefits of forage analysis and mineral balancing. 2015 Conference Schedule


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