|SEX: Mare||BREED: Grade||REG NAME: none
||INTAKE DATE: 10/8/2019|
|YOB: 1991||AGE: 28||HEIGHT: 15.2hh||WEIGHT: 1005 lbs (Oct 2019)|
|LOCATION: Redmond||ADOPTION FEE: $300||Online Adoption Application|
Butterscotch and three other horses were seized by Animal Control after being moved from another county to evade law enforcement. These horses were badly neglected, starved, and in desperate need of veterinary care. Sadly, a mare that was seized with this group was humanely euthanized by animal control due to her poor condition. These horses were part of a large herd living together in a barren, overgrazed pasture in King County. They were housed with multiple other horses in a heavily over-grazed paddock, and they were sporadically fed poor quality hay in insufficient amounts. None of the seized horses appear to have been capable of fending off younger and equally hungry horses to get to their food.
Butterscotch is a 28 year old mare who had previously been diagnosed with Cushing’s Disease while in her owner’s care, but was not receiving treatment. She has a long, shaggy coat that has not shed out, which is a classic indicator of Cushing’s. When her levels were tested after her seizure, she had an ACTH level of 468, which is extremely high (normal at this time of year is less than 100). She is underweight (BCS 2–3), with muscle loss, long, chipped hooves, anemia, parasites, and several small melanoma on her lips, tail, and anus. A dental exam revealed a loose tooth, and the sharp points and waves that develop when a horse’s teeth aren’t floated on a regular basis. With her teeth fixed and a steady supply of good feed, Butterscotch is already brighter; in fact the vet who did her 30 day recheck described her as “sassy”!
All SAFE horses are adopted with a no-breeding clause, no exceptions.
Butter came to SAFE about a month ago. She’s a sweet girl but didn’t understand much about horsemanship. I took Butter into the Friday and Saturday classes of the Joel Conner clinic. In Friday’s class, we worked on the unified circle, yielding the hindquarters, and backing up. Because Butter is an older girl, I started slow. I was very pleased with how quickly she picked up on the “feel”. Backing, following, and stopping right in time with me. She was stiff going to the right and was pretty slow, without a lot of life. Joel helped us to create more life and get out. I was so happy with our progress that day.
On Saturday, Butter seemed pretty stiff again. She started right out with an amazing “feel” and even was so I tune that when I would just reach out for her lead rope she was already backing. So soft!!! The yielding hindquarters seemed to have set back a bit and we had to work through it again until she was able to do it with more life. Yielding the hind quarters came pretty easy to her and she did it with ease. We then worked on leading and transitions. She nailed all of these with an amazing “feel”. Joel’s even commented on the life she showed when trotting off.
I could not be more pleased with this sweet girl. She has so much give, try, and feel. She is incredibly smart and picks up on new things right away. I think her stiffness restricted her a bit but she was able to work through it. What a lovely girl she is!
Bathing Butter has been something that we’ve wanted to tackle due to her perpetually grimy, shaggy haircoat. The hope was that a bath with a medicated shampoo would help her be less itchy. None of the oral supplements and antihistamines that she’s been on have seemed to help the matter, and our next option would be oral steroids. Due to her Cushing’s disease we want to reserve the steroids as a last resort because that has the potential to cause laminitis. But getting a medicated shampoo down to her skin was a struggle with her long hair, and the nice warm days that are conducive to bathing are behind us. That long, thick hair takes quite a while to dry.
We reached out to Stacey of Equine Clipping Services to see if she had time in her schedule to do a body clip for Butter. Luckily for us, Stacey had a cancellation and was able to squeeze Butter into her otherwise packed schedule the following day. Our sweet grey mare was a champ for the clipping. We were told that she had been body clipped without sedation upon her arrival at the animal control facility, so we weren’t surprised to see her stand patiently for Stacey. She didn’t so much as flinch at the clippers. There was a little spook from her when rain started to pour down on the barn roof mid-clip, but we occupied her with hay and she settled right down again.
The post-clip bath was uneventful, as well. Butter told us that she’s got a lot of life experience and that a warm bath on a stormy night was no big deal. She really seemed to appreciate the scrub down. We’re amazed to see what a beautiful mare was hiding under that shaggy coat. She almost looks like she has some type of warmblood or even some Spanish breed in her. And she looks 5–10 years younger now! But the best news of all is that Butter’s itchiness seems like it may now be a thing of the past.
Because she was un-medicated for the Cushing’s until she arrived at SAFE, her long coat grew back in pretty quiickly after her first body clip. But now that she’s on Prascend, we hope her hair will grow in a more controlled manner.
Many thanks to Stacey for helping Butter look and feel her best!
We’ve taken in several “shaggy” senior horses lately. Honeycutt, Butter, and Mara all came to us looking suspicious for pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID), and all of them tested positive. Last year, our cute pony, Sage, also got the diagnosis. PPID, also known as Equine Cushing’s disease, is a common disease among horses over the age of 15. Equine veterinarians have begun moving away from calling this Cushing’s disease because what we see in horses is different from the Cushing’s disease seen in humans and dogs. But you’ll still hear the terms used interchangeably in the horse world. In horses with PPID, the middle lobe of the pituitary gland (pars intermedia) grows abnormally large over time, resulting in the overproduction of cortisol and other hormones. This lobe can grow so much that it begins to press against neighboring structures, causing those structures to lose their ability to function properly.
One of the most recognizable signs of PPID is a long haircoat that doesn’t shed out like it’s supposed to (the technical word for this long, abnormal coat is hypertrichosis). Other common signs are increased drinking and urination, increase in or absence of sweating, a pot-bellied appearance, regional adiposity (fat accumulation in certain areas such as the neck, tail head, and above the eyes), decreased athletic performance, loss of muscling, recurrent infections such as hoof abscesses, high parasite loads, and laminitis. In really early cases, sometimes all you notice is the decrease in athletic performance. Because PPID is such a common disease, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the signs if you’re a horse owner. Early detection can help improve the quality and length of life for your horse. Although it is most common in horses over the age of 15, younger horses can also be affected.
PPID has no cure, but horses who have been diagnosed with it can have a better quality of life if placed on a medication called Prascend. Other important things to keep on top of when managing a horse with PPID are body clipping during the warm season to keep the horse comfortable, monitoring hormone levels with bloodwork periodically to be sure the dosage of medication is sufficient, routine dental and hoof care, a good deworming program, and maintaining the horse at a good body condition score with proper nutrition. Another consideration is screening for insulin resistance. About a third of horses with PPID will also have insulin resistance (IR), also called insulin dysregulation. It is this portion of PPID horses that are prone to bouts of laminitis. These horses need special dietary management and exercise in addition to Prascend. Feeding hay that’s low in sugar, eliminating grass turnout or use of a grazing muzzle while on grass, and soaking hay to remove excess sugars are management techniques that are important for horses with IR.
With proper care, a horse with PPID can often still live a long and happy life. The additional diagnosis of IR can complicate things further, but management of both diseases is possible and quite doable with a little effort and education on the part of the horse owner.
Butterscotch has been with SAFE for just over a week. She is settling in, eating well and has been very gentle to handle. Below are her initial medical assessments and week one photos.
Butterscotch is approximately 28–32 years old, a grade mare. She is 15.2hh and weighs 1005 pounds. She has melanomas on several areas of her body, which is not surprising for an older grey horse with dark skin. None of them seem to be causing any problems at this time but we will be monitoring them. She has been diagnosed with PPID (Cushing’s Disease) and just started Prascend. We will recheck her ACTH in a month. She is very itchy all over, and is healing from a skin infection that was noted while at the animal control facility. Her skin infection was thought to be PPID related. Her hooves are long and chipped. Butterscotch got a dental and vaccines prior to her arrival at SAFE. She had a significant wave mouth at that time and had one loose extracted.
Dr. Renner was out to see Butterscotch on 10/16 to assess her severe itching. It appears as though the skin infection that she had before has healed, and her current itchiness is more allergen-related. It does not appear to be bug bite hypersensitivity since it’s not presenting in the typical spots. He recommended a few different products to put her on to help control her symptoms, so we have started those and we’ll see if she improves.
If she continues to be itchy and it becomes a quality of life issue, we can consider putting her on prednisolone. That would be a last resort though because long-term use of steroids is not recommended in horses that have Cushing’s disease due to a risk of laminitis.
SAFE welcomed three new horses to the herd today. These horses were badly neglected, starved, and in desperate need of veterinary care when they were seized from their owner by Pierce County Animal Control. A fourth horse that was also seized with this group was humanely euthanized due to her poor condition.
The horses were transported to SAFE from Pierce County, where they had been held following their seizure as required by law. Their owner did not petition the court for their return, so ownership has been signed over to SAFE by the county.
BUTTERSCOTCH is a 28 year old mare who had previously been diagnosed with Cushing’s Disease while in her owner’s care, but was not receiving treatment. She has a long, shaggy coat that has not shed out, which is a classic indicator of Cushing’s. When her levels were tested after her seizure, she had an ACTH level of 468, which is extremely high (normal at this time of year is less than 100). She is underweight (BCS 2–3), with muscle loss, long, chipped hooves, anemia, parasites, and several small melanoma on her lips, tail, and anus. A dental exam revealed a loose tooth, and the sharp points and waves that develop when a horse’s teeth aren’t floated on a regular basis. With her teeth fixed and a steady supply of good feed, Butterscotch is already brighter; in fact the vet who did her 30 day recheck described her as “sassy”!
MARA is a 30+ year old Shetland pony, who also has extremely high ACTH levels and suffering from Cushing’s Disease. She is extremely thin (BCS 1.5) with long hooves, parasites, muscle loss and ataxia. She also has a scarred cornea in her left eye and had copious green discharge from both eyes, indicating bacterial conjunctivitis. An oral exam revealed four missing teeth, two loose teeth, and one broken tooth, and most of her remaining teeth had very sharp points and no remaining grinding surface. So not only was Mara unable to chew hay, her neglected teeth were creating large and painful ulcers on the inside of her mouth. She’s been put on a mash diet to ensure that she’s now getting the calories and nutrients that she needs. She’s started gaining weight, and now appears healthier and more comfortable.
FARLEY is a 25 year old red roan breeding stock paint gelding with a BCS of 2 . He came in very thin, with muscle wasting, stiffness, swollen limbs, problems with his eyes, including puffiness and clear discharge, and a possible squamous cell carcinoma on his muzzle. His teeth were also neglected, with sharp points and minimal grinding surfaces remaining. Because of this, the vet recommended that his diet should consist mainly of soaked pelleted mashes, along with small servings of alfalfa hay. After 30 days of care, Farley is still moving slowly, but he’s gaining weight and looking healthier.
Prior to their arrival in Pierce County, these horses were part of a large herd living together in a barren, overgrazed pasture in King County. These elderly horses were housed with multiple other horses in a heavily over-grazed paddock, and they were sporadically fed poor quality hay in insufficient amounts. None of the seized horses appear to have been capable of fending off younger and equally hungry horses to get to their food. And the condition of their teeth caused them to drop partly chewed hay as they tried to eat, something that an observant owner with fewer horses might have noticed.
Pierce County will be pursuing first degree felony animal cruelty charges against the horses’ former owner for their failure to properly care for the four seized horses. They are working closely with RASKC (King Co Animal Control) who had been monitoring the herd for the past year, and who were preparing to seize the four themselves when their owner moved them to Pierce County.
The fact that the county is pursuing a first degree conviction is likely a good indication that they have a strong case against the owner. This individual is also currently facing animal cruelty charges in Snohomish County for a group of horses that included SAFE’s Amelia. Should the owner be found guilty of the charges against them, Washington state law says they’ll be prohibited from owning, caring for, or residing with any similar animals for two years (for animal cruelty in the second degree) or permanently (for animal cruelty in the first degree or a second conviction of animal cruelty in the second degree.)
But while the courts do their duty, our job is clear: to continue rehabilitating these horses and return them to good health, good weight, and hopefully, some happiness. We’ll keep you posted as to their progress, so keep your good thoughts and well wishes coming their way!
2. Beth E.
3. Jane M.
4. Tami L
5. Whitney-Bear B.
6. Janis G.
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