Diagnosed With Cushings

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Well-Known Member
Aug 18, 2003
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I have a 21 year old mare who is a complete picture of health.

Except it took her forever to shed out this year, she finally did over this past month. And she wasn't getting pregnant.

So about a month ago my vet ran bloodwork including a cushings test.

The cushings test came back in the mid 700 range
Normal is supposed to be between 8 and 35.

So 2 weeks after the first test we decided to run another one to double check. We didn't feed the mare grain for 2 days prior to the test and she was kept on grass hay only and completely quiet and unstressed.

Just got the results back yesterday and it was 157

So my vet says she definitely has a pituitary problem but he's not positive that he can call it cushings because besides the shedding thing she has no classic symptoms.

All the other bloodwork was completely normal, including her thyroid and insulin levels.

She looks and acts completely healthy. She's not overweight and she runs around and acts like a 5 year old.

Her only other symptom is that since early this spring she has been very witchy about everything, which isn't like her. It's like being around a badly PMSing woman 24/7

So the vet says we will put her on Pergoglide and treat her for cushings and see what happens.

I've never had to deal with cushings before, can you tell me your experiences please. I have lots of experience with founder and laminitis but not cushings, so I'm a little lost.

Thanks for any help
My gelding was diagnosed with Cushings about three years ago. He showed no symptoms, he even shed out completely even though his coat was a bit dulled, then all of a sudden he developed Laminatis and foundered. Luckily we caught it early enough that there was no rotation. Anyways he was put on the minimum dose of Pergoglide and made a 100% recovery! He was spunkier than he had been in years and got his beautiful liver chestnut coat back. He still runs around and we have had no problems with him and the only inconveniences is we have to give him his medicine every night, which he isn't bad about, and we have him tested every year to make sure the dosage he is on is still holding him. Believe me I know what you are going though with this, I didn't even know Cushings was something horses could get, but once she is put on pergoglide you will see the difference almost overnight!!!

I don't know much about Cushings myself, but there is a great Yahoo Group dedicated to Equine Cushings. I joined, as I thought my gelding may be pre-Cushings (he's 22 years old). I'm not sure if the link will work, but here it is:


I'm not sure if the group is open to new members or not, but maybe you can still read the information. It's very informative.
The Equine Cushings group on Yahoo is the best source of current information available on Cushings and other metabolic conditions, including founder. The volume of information there is daunting, so don't let that scare you away. Read the files that are emailed to you when you sign up to join the list. Try to digest that first before you tackle the message board. There are also very good articles in the FILES section which you should also look at and perhaps print for your veterinarian. This is a very cutting edge group headed up by Dr. Eleanor Kellon and there is a wealth of information to be found there.

Be aware too that cortisol levels are at their peak at this time of the year. Even a non-Cushingoid horse may show elevated levels. This is an unexplained phenomenon, but there should be some information about that in the files and also has come up in recent discussions on the message board.

Good luck with your mare. Pergolide does seem to help the majority of these horses.

Robin C
My mare is pre-cushings and it took a lot to get my vet to even

diagnose her. She is on cyproheptadine and levoxine and is doing quite well.

The thing is she is only 7 years old and was diagnosed 2 years ago. She is on a

special diet. How I noticed it was she was not coming into condition like the

other horses were. She had such a fluid build up it wasn't funny. As I say she is

doing well now and thats all that counts. More and more horses seem to be

diagnosed with cushings lately. Linda B
I have had 2 Minis with Cushings in the past 15 years even though blood tests did not show it.1 had to be put down due to other problems, blindness and loss of motor skills in rear. 1 was donated to a University vet school&necropsy showed a tumor in brain.Both had very long silky hair in dead summer, ribby with bot belly and very prone to chronic infection.Neither would have normal heat cycles.I kept close watch on diet so neither foundered-just some ouchiness in feet.I have the daughter of 1 and she is showing some classic signs-long coat and feathering on legs and abnormal heat cycles. I am glad to know about the web site for Cushings.I plan to read all of it.It is good to know there are now drugs for treatment.
Anyways he was put on the minimum dose of Pergoglide and made a 100% recovery!
Just so you or others dont get there hopes up, there is no cure for Cushings. THe ultimate end for them is death.
Ashley said:
[ THe ultimate end for them is death.

Well, that is the ultimate end for all of us, but the treatments can/will help the horse live as normal of a life as possible and some a very long, comfortable life.
IM not dumb I know death is the the out come for everybody and everything. Fact is, when I horse has true cushings(not pre cushings) they only are give 2 years and most dont live any longer then that.

We put my cousins gelding down this past spring due to cushings. From the time he proven to have it to haveing him put down was a year and a half. He was only 13 which is young for a horse to get it.
Ashley said:
IM not dumb I know death is the the out come for everybody and everything.  Fact is, when  I horse has true cushings(not pre cushings) they only are give 2 years and most dont live any longer then that.
We put my  cousins gelding down this past spring due to cushings.  From the time he proven to have it to haveing him put down was a year and a half.  He was only 13 which is young for a horse to get it.


I didn't mean to imply you were dumb... it was the wording that got me.

The gal that started the Yahoo Cushings list, did so in memory of her Cushings mare; the mare was diagnosed in 1994 and passed away in 2002 of unrelated causes, that's 8 years after diagnosis.

Cushings isn't a "death sentence". With advances in veterinary medicine and current treatments, Cushings horses can live full lives and continue to be active.

Each horse will be different. Some will live the predicted 2-3 years after diagnosis, some much less and some much longer. Just depends on the horse and the care they receive.
Well I had a mare with "unconfirmed cushings" who pergolide didn't help.......so people know it isn't a cure.......merely a treatment that may or may not work......my sweet mare had her entire system just shut down liver/kidney failure.......she only lived maybe 3 years from onset of founder to death....not trying to be a downer just letting you know the realities......

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