Alissa Read

Hello everyone, my name is Ali and I have two horses, one with Cushings. I was referred to this forum after commenting on a post in the Oregon Horse Forum on facebook so here I am!

I got Oreo in February, she was a "free" horse on Craig's List. The only history that came with her was that she was a 23 year old trail horse. One look at her curly long coat and I knew she had Cushings, and that was confirmed by the vet on her vet check. Her hooves were long and she was super under fed, all bones and hair. The vet believes from her teeth she is around 20 and she appears to be a grade paint mare of some unknown breeding - very stocky and high withers. Since the first of March she has been on Pergolide 1.05mg. I have experimented with her diet to help find a balance that aleviates her peeing - she soaks her stall. It has gotten better and she is starting to shed out more now but I think it could be improved still. Right now she is on local grass hay (not as sugary as some of the eastern Oregon feeds), Haystack Low Fat grain (low in starch and sugar) 2 quarts, Pounds supliment (to build her topline, vitamin suppliment with selenium and biotin) 4 oz, and 1 tblsp of Chaste Tree Powder. I just started the chaste berry powder about 5 days ago.

Oreo didn't really know much other than to follow the horse infront of her when I got her. She is a bit on the stuborn side, and isn't as smart as my QH Paint, but she is super gentle and though resistant at first gives in easy when she knows what you want. She likes routine in the stable and is learning to be better in the arena, but is great on trails. I had a professional trainer give her a 5 day tune up and now she is really getting the hang of this riding thing. Her hooves were so long I swear she lost a hand when I had her trimmed, I would say now she is about 14.2 hh and 850 lbs. Her ribs are no longer visible and her feet are in great shape, nice and hard, no splits or cracking. She loves to go go go and would go all day if I let her. I always have to longe her about 20 minutes before riding just to get her ready to work, and she still wants to go even after that. I can't wait to see what color she is going to be, right now she is sort of a mousy dark grey-black, with a brown muzzle and lots of splashes of white. She has a rectangle blaze low on her face, then a crescent on her forehead, brown ears then a stripe of white across her neck and poll that give her fluffy white bangs. She really is adorable, I have no idea what her breeding is but she is, like I said, super stocky with big round ears and high withers you could hang your hat on. She almost looks like a draft horse that was shrunk in the wash with her big bones and her wedge shapped head. 

At any rate, she is safe and sound with me now and in much better shape than before!


Alissa Read

Just want to add my signature and my photo link -

March 2014


Hi Ali -

It's great to read that Oreo is doing so well under you care.  Was there anything we can do for you?  I didn't see any particular questions of us.

For additional info about IR and PPID, you may find our educational website useful:


EC Primary Response
West Coast
May 2004

Alissa Read

No questions, really! Just hoping I am on the right track. I can't believe how fast she has turned around with the things I have already done with her. She is really shedding out now and that is so exciting! And it is nice to have others who can give advice and understand how huge it is when you can change your horse's stall every other day instead of twice daily (whoo hoo!). More like, I am looking for feedback on what I am doing and conformation I am on the right track, and any other tips I can use to make Oreo more comfortable. As I don't really know her history there isn't much I can contribute to the case history file, I don't think. 

So yeah, suggestions appreciated and thank you for the welcome!



>>No questions, really! Just hoping I am on the right track...

Hi Ali,

It does sound like you are on the right track, but you are right, there are some things you can do to tweak Oreo's diet. Sounds like Oreo is very lucky to have been given to you for "free".  Gotta love Craig's list, but we all know there is no such thing as a "free" horse :), as they usually cost you a bundle right from day one! 

Let me start by saying that case histories are more than just the "history" (as in past tense) of the horse.  They are like a "chart" on a patient, as well, where you record your diet, labs, management, etc, so that the volunteers can have quick access to the details when you have a question.  Here's a message that explains just why they are so important:  We are on ECH8 now and here's a link for you to join that group:  It shouldn't take long to get approved and then the instructions for filling out your CH on Oreo are right on that main page.  I might also add that joining the history group(s) allows you to read other members case histories so that you can follow along when other members are asking questions. You will learn so much from doing that!

So a couple of suggestions I have for you based on your initial message about what you are currently feeding.  And this is one of the things that I love about this group--I learn something new every day, and today it's about the Haystack Farms Low carb/low fat feed, which I had never heard of before.  I love the picture of the pony on their website!  And I love that they actually put the guaranteed sugar, starch and fat content in their guaranteed analysis.  The only other really important thing that I do not see there is the iron content. Since iron overload is quite common in our IR/PPID horses, that is some information I would want to know before I fed this product.  Horses get enough iron from their hay, actually more than enough, and we don't want any iron added to any of the products that we feed.  Also, they list rice bran and alfalfa in their ingredients list--2 products that we normally try to stay away from.  Alfalfa can cause foot soreness in some horses and rice bran has an upside down Omega 3:6 ratio.  But it also contains flax seed, which is what we do recommend to add omega 3's and 6's as it most closely resembles the ratio found in grass ~4:1.  Here's a site you might like:  You can plug just about any food into the search bar and find out all the information you'd ever want to know about it!

Now, for the Pounds supplement.  Here is their ingredients list:  Soybean meal, dehydrated alfalfa meal, linseed meal, dried cane molasses, cottonseed meal, brewer's dried yeast, wheat bran, Lime stone flour (Calcium carbonate), yeast culture, honey, lecithin, pasteurized whole eggs, coconut, coconut oil, ferrous carbonate, Zinc sulfate, Manganous & Iron oxide, Copper sulfate, Mineral oil, Calcium iodate, Cobalt carbonate (mineral salt), dried kelp, dried whey, cultured buttermilk, skim milk, almond oil, wheat germ, L lysine, and Vitamin C, ascorbic acid, natural orange oil(ascorbic acid)
LOTS of no-no's on that list!  So you are using that to build her topline, yes?  You should see improvement in her topline just with getting her on the pergolide and making sure it's controlling her ACTH.  If that doesn't improve her topline, we have some better (safer) suggestions for you.  But that brings me to another question--what was her ACTH?  Did you also do insulin, glucose and leptin levels?  Many PPID horses are also IR (insulin resistant) so we recommend all 4 tests to get a complete diagnosis.  If Oreo is just PPID, then her diet doesn't have to be as strict as if she also tests positive for IR, but it is something you will always want to be careful with.  A high ACTH can drive the insulin up and then the IR diet becomes extremely important as well.

So the diet that we recommend is this:  A balanced low sugar starch (under 10% sugar + starch), low fat (4% or under) diet.  So that consists of low sugar starch hay (tested to be under 10% sugar + starch) with minerals to balance the hay to the analysis, plus iodized salt and to replace the fragile ingredients that are lost during the hay curing process, we use Vitamin E and ground flax seed.  The amounts of those ingredients can be found on our  website that Linda provided for you.  I hope you have taken the time to read the information on that website, as there is so much valuable information there!  Once you get your hay tested, one of the balancing folks can help you to get your minerals balanced to your hay analysis.  This is really the best way to feed any horse!  Here's a link to Equi-analytical where we like to have the hay analysis done.  You want the #603, trainers package for $54.

So I've touched on the first  2 parts of our philosophy, which is called DDT/E (Diagnosis, Diet, Trim, and Exercise), Diagnosis and Diet.  The next 2 parts are the Trim and Exercise.  You had mentioned that her hooves were long when you got her.  You are welcome to post pictures of her feet in the PHOTOS section of ECH8 so one of the hoof gurus can look and see how your trim is coming along.  We don't recommend any one trim, but to quote Dr; Kellon, "a proper trim is one where the hoof capsule correctly conforms to the bones within it."  Here is a website that shows how to take good hoof photos:

And Exercise is the best IR buster there is!  But a laminitic horse should never be forced to move!  You didn't say if Oreo was foot sore, but that you are looking for tips on how to make her more comfortable.  If that does mean she is footsore, then boots and pads may be in order until you can get her feet in better shape. 

Ali, it sounds like you are doing a great job with Oreo!  So glad to hear that she is improving under you care!  And happy that you found this group so that you can continue to tweak things for her so she can continue to improve.  Let us know if you do have any questions.  We are just a keystroke away!

Maggie, Chancey and Spiral in VA
March 2011
EC Primary Response