Attn New Member: Marlene L in Idaho

Sherry Morse

Hi Marlene,

TBs are not known for being IR at baseline but they can develop IR (which could show as a cresty neck and fat deposits) as an offshoot of being PPID (commonly known as Cushings).  If you're mare were mine I'd be having bloodwork pulled to get her ACTH level checked - Bonnie outlined the details on this in your welcome letter.  You can add glucose and insulin to that as well to confirm if she is/isn't IR at this point.  The fact that she's now had 3 cases of laminitis is very suspicious for it being related to PPID, especially if all 3 instances have occurred in the fall. 

Feeding a horse apples could possibly cause laminitis in a horse with IR, but again, that's not very common in TBs.  Also, it was in the past and you can't change the past so you need to focus on getting her better.

If you can get a case history started and photos/xrays posted on the Case History group (details on all this are in the welcome letter) we'll be able to help you assess if her current trim is correct or if it needs to be corrected to help her heal. If the shoe was put on a hoof that wasn't trimmed as it should be it could be causing more issues than it's helping.  For this reason we prefer to leave horses that have had laminitis barefoot and keep them booted for comfort as it enables more frequent trims to be done. 

Even with shoes on you can use styrofoam taped to the bottom of your mares feet to help her feel better, it just may not have the same effect as if she had no shoes on.

IF the laminitis is metabolic in origin Bute will not help so it's good that she's off of it, but the Meloxicam is just another NSAID and also will not help her.  What will help is finding out what's causing the laminitis, removing the trigger and getting her trim and diet in order. 

LJ Friedman

--If you want immediate relief, get your horse in boots with pads. Right now you can buy Styrofoam and tape it onto the feet. You’ll see videos on how to do this 
LJ Friedman  Nov 2014 Vista,   Northern  San Diego, CA

Jesse and majestic ‘s Case History 
Jesse's Photos



Hello Marlene,
Since your first post to our group was made within another member's post with replies to her I have copied your first post as a new member into a new topic so we can concentrate on your questions and what your mare needs.

Your post:
I am new to the group and not sure if I'm following protocol for communications.
My 18 year old TB mare is demonstrating classic founder symptoms: all weight on her back end, can barely move, used to lay down a lot and not so much now.  She has foundered before in 2017 and 2019 but very very very minor compared to this.  She does not have a cresty neck or long hair like Cushings.  I feed my horses apples once in a while to flush their liver (according to a vet) and I'm wondering if that is what caused this episode to happen.  Symptoms started very slowly the first of Sept (feeding apples) and has progressed to where she is now.  Xrays show slight rotation of coffin bones and slight modeling of left coffin bone.  I have a journeyman farrier who got her shod properly but she is NOT getting any better.  I've had her on 2 grams of Bute twice a day until I caught her leaning and bouncing her belly (right side, always the right side) off her water bucket and knew I had to stop the Bute.  So....I committed the cardinal sin and put her on my ringbone horses' Meloxicam.....  She seemed to improve minutely and is not having the gastric problems now, but has plateaued and is still in great pain.  It's been about 5 weeks.  When is enough, enough?  Her front feet are cold and there is no digital pulse.  Do I need to have her tested for insulin resistance or something?
Y'all are my last hope.  This horse makes my life whole.  This is killing me.  Please help.

One of the toughest things that you are dealing with right now is seeing your horse in pain. Pain medications don't really help with laminitis. But just realize that there are many things you can do for your horse to start her recovering. Pain passes, don't let it overwhelm you emotionally. With the correct steps and care most horses can recover from laminitis. My horse did, and you can read posts from all these members if you need convincing that YES YOU CAN!

Below you will find our "New Member" document. It is organized into sections which you need to read and explore. There are many "blue colored" links which when clicked on will take you to detailed info.  USE THE LINKS! This group also has a detailed website and the link to the website is right at the top. DIAGNOSIS and TREATMENT sections will explain a lot to you. The DIET section is what you can do RIGHT NOW for your horse. Put your mare onto the EMERGENCY DIET immediately. This is a key step for your horse that you can take right now. NO MORE APPLES! No grain, no sugars, etc. and begin soaking her hay. Hay often has very high sugar and/or starch levels. Soaking her hay (unknown sugar levels until it is tested) will reduce the sugar levels. 

Yes, you do need to have blood tests done, this is explained in the DIAGNOSIS section. Request that your vet use the procedures and protocols that ECIR recommends. Our website had a good section explaining the diagnostic steps. I found it helped to get my vet onboard with  the ECIR protocol steps by giving her links to the ECIR website. Another vet I copied sections from the website and emailed those to him.


Welcome to the group! 

The ECIR Group provides the best, most up to date information on Cushing's (PPID) and Insulin Resistance (IR). Please explore our website where you'll find tons of great information that will help you to quickly understand the main things you need to know to start helping your horse. Also open any of the links below (in blue font) for more information/instructions that will save you time.

Have you started your Case History? If you haven't done so yet, please join our case history sub-group. We appreciate you following the uploading instructions so your folder is properly set up with the documents inside. Go to this CH message with info on how to use various devices and forms. If you have any trouble, just post a message to let us know where you are stuck.

Orienting information, such as how the different ECIR sections relate to each other, message etiquettewhat goes where and many how-to pages are in the Wiki. There is also an FAQs on our website that will help answer the most common and important questions new members have. 

Below is a general summary of our DDT/E philosophy which is short for Diagnosis, Diet, Trim and Exercise.


DIAGNOSIS: There are two conditions dealt with here: Cushings (PPID) and Insulin Resistance (IR). These are two separate issues that share some overlapping symptoms. An equine may be either PPID or IR, neither or both. While increasing age is the greatest risk factor for developing PPID, IR can appear at any age and may have a genetic component. Blood work is used for diagnosis as well as monitoring the level of control of each.

PPID is diagnosed using the Endogenous ACTH test, while IR is diagnosed by testing non-fasting insulin and glucose.

The fat-derived hormone leptin is also usually abnormally elevated in insulin resistance but because there are many other things which can lower or increase leptin ECIR is not recommending routine testing for this hormone. Leptin is the hormone that says "stop eating".

In Europe, adiponectin is tested instead of leptin. Adiponectin helps regulate glucose and fat burning, and maintain insulin sensitivity. Low levels are associated with EMS. It has come to be preferred over leptin because it is not influenced by things like weight or exercise, and also because it was the only factor other than insulin levels that predicted laminitis risk

*Before calling your vet to draw blood for tests, we suggest saving time and wasted money by reading these details and then sharing them with your vet so that everyone is on the same page regarding correct testing and protocols.

*Please remember to request copies of the results of all the tests done rather than just relying on verbal information. Your vet should be able to email these to you. If you have previous test results, please include those as well. All should go in your CH, but if you are having any trouble with the CH, just post in the messages for now. 

Treatment: IR is a metabolic type - not a disease - that is managed with a low sugar+starch diet and exercise (as able). The super-efficient easy keeper type breeds such as minis, ponies, Morgans, Arabs, Rockies are some of the classic examples. PPID is a progressive disease that is treated with the medication pergolide. Some, but not all, individuals may experience a temporary loss of appetite, lethargy and/or depression when first starting the medication. To avoid this "pergolide veil" (scroll down for side effects), we recommend weaning onto the drug slowly and the use of the product APF. The best long term results are seen when the ACTH is maintained in the middle of the normal range at all times, including during the annual seasonal rise. To accomplish this, the amount of medication may need to increase over time. Neither condition is ever "cured", only properly controlled for the remainder of the equine's life. If your partner is both PPID and IR then both medication and diet management will be needed. 

DIET: Almost all commercial feeds are not suitable - no matter what it says on the bag. Please see the International Safe Feeds List for the safest suggestions.

No hay is "safe" until proven so by chemical analysis. The diet that works for IR is:

  • low carb (less than 10% sugar+starch)
  • low fat (4% or less) 
  • mineral balanced  

We use grass hay, tested to be under 10% ESC + starch, with minerals added to balance the excesses and deficiencies in the hay, plus salt, and to replace the fragile ingredients that are lost when grass is cured into hay, we add ground flax seed and Vitamin E. This diet is crucial for an IR horse, but also supports the delicate immune system of a PPID horse. 

*Until you can get your hay tested and balanced we recommend that you soak your hay and use the emergency diet (scroll down for it).  The emergency diet is not intended for long term use, but addresses some of the most common major deficiencies. Testing your hay and getting the minerals balanced to its excesses and deficiencies is the best way to feed any equine. If you absolutely cannot test your hay and balance the minerals to it, or would like to use a "stop gap" product until you get your hay balanced, here's a list of "acceptable" ration balancers

There is a lot of helpful information in the start here folder so it is important you read all the documents found there. The emergency diet involves soaking your untested hay for an hour in cold water or 30 minutes in hot water. This removes up to 30% of the sugar content, but no starch. Starch is worse than sugar since it converts 100% to glucose while sugar only converts 50%, so starch causes a bigger insulin spike. Make sure you dump the soaking water where the equine(s) can't get to it. 

What you don't feed on the IR diet is every bit as, if not more important than, what you do feed! No grass. No grain. No sugary treats, including apples and carrots. No brown/red salt blocks which contain iron (and sometimes molasses) which interferes with mineral balancing, so white salt blocks only. 

No products containing molasses. No bagged feeds with a combined sugar and starch of over 10% or starch over about 4%, or fat over about 4%. Unfortunately, even bagged feeds that say they are designed for IR and/or PPID equines are usually too high in sugar, starch and/or fat. It’s really important to know the actual analysis and not be fooled by a name that says it is suitable for IR/PPID individuals.

We do not recommend feeding alfalfa hay to IR/PPID equines as it makes many of them laminitic. Although it tends to be low in sugar, many times the starch is higher and does not soak out. Additionally, protein and calcium are quite high, which can contribute to sore footedness and make mineral balancing very difficult.

TRIM: A proper trim is toes backed and heels lowered so that the hoof capsule closely hugs and supports the internal structures of the foot. Though important for all equines, it's essential for IR and/or PPID equines to have a proper trim in place since they are at increased risk for laminitis. After any potential triggers are removed from the diet, and in PPID individuals, the ACTH is under control, the realigning trim is often the missing link in getting a laminitic equine comfortable. In general, laminitic hooves require more frequent trim adjustments to maintain the proper alignment so we recommend the use of padded boots rather than fixed appliances (i.e. shoes, clogs), at least during the initial phases of treatment.

Sometimes subclinical laminitis can be misdiagnosed as arthritis, navicular, or a host of other problems as the animal attempts to compensate for sore feet. 

You are encouraged to make an album and post hoof pictures and any radiographs you might have so we can to look to see if you have an optimal trim in place. Read this section of the wiki for how to get a hoof evaluation, what photos are needed, and how to get the best hoof shots and radiographs.

EXERCISEThe best IR buster there is, but only if the equine is comfortable and non-laminitic. An individual that has had laminitis needs 6-9 months of correct realigning trims before any serious exercise can begin. Once the equine is moving around comfortably at liberty, hand walking can begin in long straight lines with no tight turns. Do not force a laminitic individual to move, or allow its other companions to do so. It will begin to move once the pain begins to subside. Resting its fragile feet is needed for healing to take place so if the animal wants to lay down, do not encourage it to get up. Place feed and water where it can be reached easily without having to move any more than necessary. Be extremely careful about movement while using NSAIDs (bute, banamine, previcox, etc.) as it masks pain and encourages more movement than these fragile feet are actually able to withstand. Additionally, NSAIDs (and icing) do not work on metabolic laminitis and long term NSAID use interferes with healing. Therefore, we recommend tapering off NSAIDs after the first week or so of use. If after a week's time your equine's comfort level has not increased, then the cause of the laminitis has not been removed and keeping up the NSAIDs isn't the answer - you need to address the underlying cause.


There is lots more information in our files and archived messages and also on our website. It is a lot of information, so take some time to go over it and feel free to ask any questions. If you are feeling overwhelmed, don't worry, you will catch on, and we are always here to help you! Once you have your case history uploaded, we can help you help your equine partner even better.

For members outside North America, there are country specific folders in the files and many international lists in the wiki to help you find local resources.

If you have any technical difficulties, please let us know so we can help you.