'Shakira' Swain

Horse of the Month April 2022

'Shakira' Swain

Our Horse of the Month for April is Shakira! This beautiful Connemara-X-TB mare has been treated for Equine Cushing’s disease for 5 years now. Her owner Sarah says that she noticed Shakira “was becoming very lethargic – normally she’s always full of beans!! She also had a dull coat which wasn’t moulting properly, and she had been on box rest for 6 months due to laminitis.” Shakira’s vet took a blood sample to test for Cushing’s, and the results showed that her ACTH levels were very high. High ACTH levels indicate the presence of Equine Cushing’s disease, so Shakira was prescribed medication in the form of a daily tablet.

Because there are many different signs of Cushing’s, different horses can take different lengths of time to show a response to treatment. For this reason it is usually recommended that a blood sample is taken 4-6 weeks after medication is started to check that the ACTH levels have come back down to normal levels. Fortunately Shakira’s ACTH levels returned to normal, and Sarah reports that she was back to her normal self within weeks!

Cushing’s is a progressive disease in horses, so it is important to re-check the ACTH levels and ensure that your vet re-examines your horse regularly so that the medication dose can be increased before any symptoms of disease start to return. Shakira’s dose has had to be increased once in the last 5 years, and Sarah says that she is doing amazingly and is ridden four times a week….that sounds much better than 6 months of box rest!

Thanks so much for sharing Shakira’s story with us Sarah – we’re so glad she’s doing well.