Krystal has Cushing’s Disease - it’s a fairly common hormone or ‘endocrine’ disorder in horses and ponies. It’s not widely realised that ponies with laminitis often have Cushing’s disease – it’s actually the hidden cause of the problem. This is what happened to Krystal earlier this year and it was only our equine graduate Laura’s prompt diagnosis that saved her life.
When Krystal developed laminitis (fever of the feet) even though she hadn’t been on lush grass or was over fat, we were puzzled. Laura realised that Cushing’s might be the cause of Krystal’s problems and asked the vet to do a blood test. Whilst Krystal was being treated for the painful laminitis, we waited anxiously for the result of the test. It was positive and although we were glad to know what was the cause of Krystal’s illness, we didn’t know whether she would respond to treatment.
It’s been several tense months and at one stage Krystal seemed to be getting worse. Her feet hurt, her coat was rough (a symptom of Cushing’s) and we had to keep her on a special diet and on soft rubber flooring so she wouldn’t worsen the condition of her tender hooves.
The blacksmith was coming every two weeks, the medication for Cushing’s is a tiny tablet that she has to take every day. Krystal swallows it without any fuss although we do disguise it in a chunk of apple to make sure it goes down. It’s been hard to visualize that such a minute pill would cure her.
The vet was optimistic though and for sure she was right. Krystal has gradually recovered. Her coat is smooth again, her quality of life is good, she has her appetite back and her hooves are now showing no signs of laminitis. The blacksmith is happy with her condition and she can go out for exercise again.
It’s been a harrowing ordeal, for us as well as Krystal. If you have a horse with sudden onset laminitis it always best to have the test for Cushing’s done. Krystal is such a lovely pony and has suffered so much already, we wish only the best and a happy life for her. What caused her to become ill with hormonal problems? I don’t think we’ll ever know.