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Edie Widoff

Hi.  I am from Colorado.  I have a 19 yo Arabian Pinto mare.  My farrier noticed that she was developing a cresty neck and suggested she might have Cushings.  My vet ran the blood work through Cornell and her numbers are:   ACTH Baseline: 33.8 pg/mL, Insulin 71.73  ulU/mL, and T4 Baseline 1.36 ug/dL. 

Thankfully the cresty neck is her only symptom.  My vet isn't overly concerned, but I want to make sure I am helping her as best as I can to prevent any serious symptoms.  She is on grass hay at a boarding facility in Aurora, CO.  I have cut out all her grain, probiotic treats, Sand Clear, and have started giving her about 3-4 cups of soaked non molasses beet pulp about every other day, and have been trying to exercise her more.  The facility where I board is a big place, so they go through hay pretty quickly.  I guess I will just get it tested every 3/4 months.  Does anyone have advice for soaking hay at a boarding facility where I can't go out there twice a day for forever?  Any other suggestions?  How will I know if/when I am doing the right thing and/or enough?  Thanks!

Mandy Woods

Hi Edie ~
Is that your name?   Welcome to the list.   Go fix yourself a cup of coffee and sit down, relax  and start reading about the DDT/E’s.   You are about to start a new journey into equine management.   Your farrier should get a box of dark chocolates for his/her observation!
First,   we would like you to join the ECH8 group.  This is our medical file.  There is a Questionnaire in this file that asks lots of questions.  Please answer as best you can.  The total paints a larger picture for the volunteers to answer.  You’ll see......You will also be able to post your xrays,  hoof photos and hay analysis there. 
Our philosophy is DDT/E.   This is DIAGNOSIS,  DIET,   TRIM  and EXERCISE.   You must do all 4 at the same time to see optimal results.   
DIAGNOSIS is by blood work.   You did it and you have a DX.  Your mare is at the high end of the Cushings score and since we’re in the seasonal rise now it is going to  go up more.  She may or may not require a short course of Pergolide.  We need to know her symptoms.   Her Insulin says she’s definitely Insulin Resistance.    Our cut off is 10.    This is managed by DIET.   Was she fed before the tests?  what was she fed? or was she fasted?     You need to start soaking her untested hay today.  
The Temporary Emergency Diet is what she needs today.  Remove her from pasture/grass.    NO grains,  apples, carrots, commercial supplements or feeds.   No red salt blocks either.  They have molasses and iron added to them.   Go to Walmart and get a fish hanging scale in the sports department.  Feed her 1.5% – 2% her body weight a day in dry hay.   Feed her at least 4 meals a day.  Soak two polyhaynets of hay  for one hour in cold water or 30 minutes in hot water.  Pour the water where she cant get to it.  Serve  one net hanging in her stall. Let the barn crew serve the last net of the day.    Do the same in the morning.  Soak 2 haynets/one hour/drain and serve.   Soaking reduces up to 30 % of the sugar.    The temporary minerals are Vitamin E gel caps natural.  Magnesium oxide.  Loose iodized table salt and freshly ground flax.   Triple Crown makes a ground stablized flax.    The recipe is in the Start Here file on ECIR and at    You might be surprised how creative you can get sourcing hay that is low sugar/starch.  Shop around,  talk around to boarders that may have IR horses,  find a link to your state Agri division.  Hay farmers will probably advertise there.   Once you have a stack of hay or lots of bales from the same field,  consider asking your Barn Owner if you can rent a space on her property to store hay.  This can be in an empty stall,  a corner of a hay loft,  a place behind the barn you can stack the hay on pallets and cover with tarps....or even buy a prebuilt Amish barn and have it delivered to the facility.  Have a garage?  Move your car out and move the hay in!!!   IF you find hay under 10% s/s you can nix soaking hay!
Back to the DIET ~ She needs her hay minerals balanced.  Go to and read about how to core hay.  Go to  (same building/horse door) and look at the Trainer # 603 for $54.  You want to do this no more than twice a year!   Your mare will be on a lot of hay for quite a while so don’t buy 10  50# bales at a time.  Shoot for a years worth if you can swing it. These sites show you how to core hay and send to EA.   Easy to do.  Then when the analysis comes back you will know what exactly to add to make the perfect diet.    Mixing  your minerals will take 5 minutes.   Your horse will gleam! 
TRIM is a balanced foot with toes backed from the top and heels lowered.     Boots and pads if she becomes sore. Please send us photos of her feet.     Put them in ECH8  PHOTO section.
EXERCISE is the best thing you can do with her now.  Even hand walking is great.  Never force a laminitic horse to move.    Do you have an arena or drylot at your barn?  She is going to need time outside with either a muzzle or  drylot under her. If
You mention feeding her beet pulp.  To make BP very safe ~ rinse/soak/rinse it before you serve.   You can feed up to 30% her body weight a day in BP dry.   Its that safe if you r/s/r it.  Horses can loose weight on BP!    Do you have Ontario Dehy Timothy Balance cubes in your area?  This is a complete feed in a bag formulated by Dr. Kellon.   You can put a white salt block in her stall to give her something to do. 
Edie,  both of these syndromes are progressive.  You must stay on top them.   You have an observant farrier.    Send your vet to   
Here are some links to help you.  Start a journal and ask questions!    ..........this is the calculator we use.  Just plug in your numbers. 
Mandy in VA
EC Primary Response
OCT 2003

Edie Widoff

Wow, thank you!  Yes, my name is Edie. 

She was tested without fasting.  She eats grass hay. 

Thankfully the only symptom she has is the cresty neck.  I have been giving her a little bit of beet pulp (about 3-4 cups after soaking), but will start increasing that.  I also will start rinsing it after I soak it too. 

I only get out to the barn once a day, so I'm really hoping I don't have to soak her hay, but if I need to  I will teach our barn hands how to do it. 

I have left a message for the extension office to find out about borrowing a hay corer to test the hay.


Edie, from Colorado


Edie Widoff

Also the website takes me to a hosting site, not anything about testing hay.  Thanks.

Mandy Woods

I see what I did.........I misspelled
First mistake of the year!
Mandy in VA

Also the website takes me to a hosting site, not anything about testing hay. Thanks.