If you don’t have a horse with Cushings disease or Cushings syndrome or whatever they want to call it, you probably know someone who does. Do the horse a favour and spread this article around!
I have noticed three major elements that need to be fixed for horses with Cushings to heal:
ONE: Every single horse with Cushings that I have met or heard about – has been the caretaker type of horse, the one who slows down and freezes when they are afraid or confused and every single one of them has had fear or nervous issues that have been misunderstood because of the quiet way in which they tend to react. We’ll talk about how to fix that in a minute.
TWO: Every single one of them has been on a restricted diet because of weight issues or risk of laminitis etc. We’ll talk about options for diet too.
THREE: Many, many of them have spent a considerable amount of time in a paddock or yard on their own.
Address these three issues and your horses with Cushings can heal.
You’ll often hear me talk about these wonderful caretaker horses, who slow down or freeze when they are nervous or confused – they internalise their nervousness. I talk about them a lot because the world is full of them, my horse Bobby is one and soooo…. many of them are in trouble.
From the scientific point of view, these horses are producing too much of the stress hormone cortisol – they have broken the “off switch” of the adrenal gland that produces the cortisol. Chronic stress (often so low grade that we don’t notice it) is why they have broken that switch and you can help them fix the stress and repair the switch.
You can use the FREE LESSONS the 9 Keys to Happiness with Your Horse to get a new perspective on the underlying nerves and anxieties of these quiet, gentle horses – I’ve put a link below to the lesson that is about the Caretaker horses.
If you need more, then the Fast Track to Brilliant Riding on line lesson program (click here to read more about that) will give you a deeper than trust, deeper than connected, deeper than confident, systematic understanding of where in your horse’s life you can help them eliminate nerves and be more confident. They will move forward easily without force.
Click here to get an advance look at the bonus lesson from The 9 Keys to Happiness with Your Horse that explains more about how to handle these amazingly beautiful types of horses.
When people feel deprived, even if they are not actually hungry or starving, their metabolism changes so that the person lays in more fat cells – it throws the fat switch to “on”. It is similar for our overweight horses – the more we deprive them, the fatter they get and the harder it is to stop them from getting laminitis and the unhappier they get too.
I believe that there is a link between the food deprivation that we use for overweight horses and sufferers of chronic laminitis and eventual Cushings disease.
One answer is to change our horse’s diet to lots of simple grass hay – as much as they can eat. Or change them to long dry grass instead of the short, stressed, high sugar stuff.
Craving and then overeating, even in horses, is often about missing something important from the diet. Get your horse out hand grazing them on the long, dry, uncut grass verges where you find lots of native grasses and so-called weeds that are often very useful herbs of great benefit in both minerals and healing properties. Hand grazing like that can be quality time bonding together.
Get these horses into company – at least one other horse – preferably a consistent little herd of horses who have similar feed requirements. If you only have one overweight horse, join together with someone else with a horse of similar requirements and give them enough room for them to run about and play – the more the better!
I find a laneway works well. I leave the tree guard to grow to long dry grass and that’s where I put my miniature horses in spring time when I am simply not game to leave them out with the main herd.
Address ALL these issues and your horse with Cushings can heal – I’ve seen it happen numerous times now.