Guest Post by Jessica Lynn of Earth Song Ranch
Growing up in the 1950’s, 60’s and into the early 70’s with horses, we did not have all the vaccines, nor all the chemical dewormers that are, or have become, part of the modern horse keeping conundrum– especially if your horses are in a boarding facility.
We did not have hay sprayed with Round-up, we did not have GMO-ready crops, and horse owners did not have all of the concentrated bag feeds available with huge marketing budgets from the manufacturer’s telling you how great they are!
We did not have horses that had laminitis or other health challenges, as they grazed on pasture, were supplemented with oats and alfalfa, had a natural spring fed pond to drink from, and lived in a herd environment run by a pony named Cricket.
Our horses got a tube wormer once per year when the vet came, and they only got a Tetanus vaccine–receiving none of all the other “stuff” that has become so common and apparently is not in the best interests of the horses we love.
What is Cushings:
Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction (PPID), or what is commonly known as Cushing’s Disease, is due to the development of a benign tumor of the pituitary gland. The growth of this tumor subsequently disturbs the delicate balance which exists between the pituitary gland, the hypothalamus, the thyroid, and the adrenal cortex. It is the disruption of this mechanism that leads to the “presenting symptoms” we all associate with Cushing’s disease.
The visual symptoms of Cushing’s seem to come on more often in the fall, along with what is known as the Fall cortisol release:
- Fat pockets and cresty necks develop
- Horses start growing heavier and longer winter coats than normal, which occurs as we have fewer daylight hours and the evenings begin to get cooler.
- Horses do not shed their winter coats like other horses do or at the same time
- Geldings may get swollen sheaths
- Some horses lack energy and stamina as the first sign that something is wrong
There is also a cortisol release in the Spring – which may be related to the horses hanging on to their winter coats and not shedding like the rest – but is also more likely to bring on a bout of laminitis, signaling to owners that their horse is starting to becoming a “Cushing’s Horse”. Since Spring is when most laminitis episodes occur, this also leads me to believe it is all brought about or exacerbated by the “annual or bi-annual” spring vaccines and deworming, often done on the same day in many cases!
The first case of Cushing’s I saw was more than 15 years ago, in a senior Arabian mare. Her first symptoms were laminitis and not totally shedding in the spring. With Dr. Wessner’s help, we got her turned around with homeopathy and several herbs known for their anti-inflammatory properties. We realized kelp was a necessary natural ingredient that the horses needed because it supports the thyroid and seems to support the pituitary as well. We know Chaste Tree Berry supports the pituitary but what we have found is that in the powder form added to feed, it is not absorbed as readily. Instead, a “tea” seems to work best.
Over the years of seeing more and more horses develop Cushings, I have had many discussions with multiple holistic vets, and we all have come to the same conclusion: it is the over-vaccination, over chemical deworming, and the bagged feeds with all of the byproducts and GMO ingredients that triggers this dis-ease.
So what can you as a horse owner do? Educate yourself, read the labels on the bagged feeds, then switch to oats or Crypto Aero Whole Food feed. Stop vaccinating and get blood titers done to see where your horses levels are; only use chemical dewormers after you have done a fecal and there is a need, otherwise practice prevention– keep pastures and pens picked up, use an herbal blend or DE, also use herbs to detox your horses liver and kidneys twice per year, usually spring and fall to help them overcome the chemicals they are exposed to daily in their lives from the fly sprays to the plastic feed buckets.
Please go to our FAQ page for more information and also to our Articles Page and read Sunny’s story, as published in Natural Horse Magazine, where we changed his feed and put him on the program of herbs and tea bringing his ACHT from 293 to 27 in just a few months!
If you have a horse with Cushing’s symptoms, stay tuned for a giveaway which will start tomorrow. It will be for “Sunny’s Kit” from Earth Song Ranch. The kit sells for $159 and comes with free shipping, plus a a 15 minute nutritional review/consult with Jessica!