Shetland pony - possible Cushings


Hi Michelle  & welcome to the list


Lavinia has already given you plenty of great  advice- so I won’t double up on that. Sounds like you have a fairly good grasp of the situation,

 Filling out the case history will certainly allow us to help you better.

 I’m located in Sth West Vic.- so happy to help/support you in any way I can.

 Ask away if you have any questions- or need to Australianise something that you’ve read.




Jack & Spur

Sth West Vic

Australia Aug 07

Lavinia Fiscaletti

Hi Michelle,

Welcome to the list. We have many Aussie members here so hoping they will also chime in with help for you. Here is the link to out Aussie file:

Quick answer - pergolide CAN start to work that quickly. It also helped that your girl had her trim adjusted, boots and pads added and her diet is a bit better. It sounds like the dex added to an already precarious situation and pushed her over the edge. This is why we recommend using the ACTH test instead as there is no possibility of a negative reaction from doing it.

The list philosophy is DDT/E, which is shorthand for diagnosis, diet, trim and exercise. Please have a read on out educational website when you have a moment as it is packed with info regarding PPID and IR, two separate conditions that have many overlapping symptoms:

We need you to fill out a case history for your little lady on our sister site ECHistory8. You'll need to join but it will only take a minute:

This puts all your info in one handy place for the volunteers to find when needed. We ask that you add the link to the history to your posts once you have it completed. Include all the info you currently have, you can update it as needed or when new info becomes available. Also ask that you add your year of joining to your signature as well.

Diagnosis: Is thru bloodwork. Your vet has done a dex suppression test and is now awaiting the results of the ACTH testing. Something just doesn't sound right that the dex test came back negative with the symptoms and age of your little girl. She is exhibiting classic PPID (Cushings) symptoms and the added foot soreness as you go into your Fall season just screams PPID as the cause. Luckily, you've been able to start the pergolide already. PPID is treated with meds - pergolide - while IR is manged thru diet. Ponies are notoriously IR because they are ponies. This is not a disease but a type of metabolism that is great as a survival tool when resources are scarce. Unfortunately, in our modern day situaions the problem is overabundance rather than scarcity.

Bute is not recommended after the first few days as it will interfere with healing and may also enable your girl to do more than she should on her compromised feet.

DIET: What Not to feed is as important as what to feed. You have a number of good things already in place. The low sugar/starch, native grass hay, beet pulp (needs to be rinsed/soaked/rinsed before feeding to further lower sugar and remove excess surface iron), track system. Stop any grass access as the sugar content is an unknown; lucerne is not recommended for IR equines as it makes many of them footsore (high protein, high starch may be some of the factors); rice bran (inverted omega 3 to 6 ratio). Need to add ground flax/linseed, vit E gelcaps with oil in them. Goal is to get your hay analysed and then supplement based on the excesses/deficiencies.

TRIM: Heels low, toes backed. Hoof capsule needs to be hug the coffin bone tightly to provide support and protection. Boots and pads as needed for comfort. Post pics in the Photo section of ECHistory8 and the hoof gurus can take a look to make sure the trim is optimal for healing.

EXERCISE: Best IR buster there is but never force a laminitic/foundered horse to move. Let her wander at her own pace at this time as long as she doesn't get to tearing around.

Ask any questions as they come up, we're here to help.

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

Michelle Le Grew

Hi everyone, I'm new here, just finding my way around. I have an aged Shetland pony mare, we suspect mid-late 20's. We rescued her four years ago, she was in the middle of a laminitic crisis with terribly long slipper feet. We resolved that with diet and correct trimming. She has always been laminitis prone, has had several further episodes, but I've been able to avoid laminitis all through last spring and summer using a lane way system with restricted grazing. She didn't shed her coat last summer, I clipped her and she grew her coat back in a month. She had a full winter coat by the end of summer.  She was also drinking more, and weeing more.  I have an old TB with Cushings so I was suspicious. About a month ago, at the start of our autumn, my pony looked a little sore also, but she had no grass in her paddock, and her diet hadn't changed. She is on a diet of low sugar native grass Hay, beet pulp, handful of Lucerne and a handful of rice bran. Ive now removed the rice bran. 2 weeks ago my vet did a Dex suppression test, he felt it would be safe, but the next day after the Dex shot she could hardly walk, and her feet were so hot they could have boiled water. The test came back negative. She has been in the stable ever since, and has been terribly sore, and on Bute. My vet has taken further bloods to test insulin/glucose levels, and also to do the ACTH test. I will have results in a few days. X-rays show a mild pedal bone rotation.  We started her on pergolide last Thursday. My trimmer came last Friday to slightly shorten her toes and lower her heels. Also to fit padded boots.  Saturday morning she was terrible, couldn't stand. Saturday night I could see an improvement, not so much shifting of her feet. Sunday morning showed a VAST improvement. She is walking almost normally on the rubber. Also noticed her drinking had tapered back to normal, same with her weeing, back to One or two a day, instead of 8-10. I'm delighted, but very puzzled.  Would this improvement be from the  Dex finally leaving her system, or can pergolide work that quickly???

Michelle L
Victoria, Australia