'Mairaed' Bendall

Horse of the Month November 2021

'Mairaed' Bendall

We’re delighted to introduce our Horse of the Month for November, the beautiful Mairaed!

Mairaed has been treated for Equine Cushing’s disease for a while now, and like many her initial symptoms were very vague. Her owner Jill told us “There were really no specific signs of Cushing's. She just 'wasn't right'. Our vet was coming out anyway so we decided to get her tested for Cushing’s and the results came back showing that she was just into the positive result zone. I was told that treatment would be for life but I just got on with it; there was no way she wouldn't be treated for this disease as I knew it would make her feel better in herself. Obviously it would have been great to have a negative result, but it wasn't so I have just learnt how to manage it for her. I do this by regular testing, ensuring she wears her grazing muzzle, and when the grass was really lush she actually didn’t go out at all until the grass was eaten down by the others. Low calorie feeds have been a real challenge for us:  we went through many bags of feed until I found one she liked?. Now her summer coat is beautiful and shiny, she is a real chestnut with blonder mane. Her winter coat can vary, this year she is like a furry bunny, very soft and fine! And as you can see we love riding out together ?”

Jill’s experience is similar to many other owners of horses with Equine Cushing’s disease – because this is a hormonal disease the signs can develop slowly, and lethargy can present in different ways in different horses. You are the one that knows your horse the best, and for many owners a hunch that things were not right was the reason that they identified Cushing’s in their horse.  As Jill has said, treatment is the key to managing Cushing’s and getting your horse back to their old self,  but it’s important to keep an eye on your horse’s blood test results so that you can tweak any treatment or management appropriately and reduce the risk of Cushing’s signs returning. Laminitis is one of the most serious clinical signs associated with Cushing’s, and monitoring insulin levels as well as ACTH levels is important in minimising your horse’s laminitis risk factors. Jill reports that “Unfortunately this autumn I was caught out as it was wet and warm. I had Mairaed tested again and her results had gone up! She is now on box rest, reduced grazing and a grazing muzzle in addition to her Cushing’s treatment”. If you have any questions about managing your horse with Equine Cushing’s disease, you can read more about this topic in our ‘Managing the disease’ section.

It's lovely to see Mairaed so well and happy Jill – thank you for sharing her story with us!