|SEX: Mare||BREED: Shetland Pony||REG NAME: unknown||INTAKE DATE: 10/8/2019|
|COLOR: Silver Dapple||MARKINGS:|
|YOB: 1988||AGE: 30+||HEIGHT: 10.2hh||WEIGHT: 450 lbs (Oct 2019)
|LOCATION: Redmond||ADOPTION FEE: $300||Online Adoption Application|
Mara 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.
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.
All SAFE horses are adopted with a no-breeding clause, no exceptions.
A few weeks ago, Mara’s left eye appeared to be hurting. She was squinting, had ocular discharge, and started trying to rub the pain away by scratching her head on the fence post. Dr. Renner from Rainland Farm came out to do an eye exam and found that she had a very large corneal ulceration and evidence of glaucoma and possible uveitis. He prescribed an antibiotic ointment to treat the ulcer and an anti-inflammatory to help with pain and swelling. Mara had almost immediate relief with the medications.
By her recheck appointment two weeks later, the ulcer had almost completely healed. Her discharge had cleared, and she seemed overall much happier. Dr. Renner said that he was pleased with her progress and that it looked like she could possibly keep the eye if she continued to be pain-free and we could keep flareups at bay. He wanted to give her a week without the medication to see if symptoms reappeared.
Mara had another recheck exam this week. This time, Dr. Renner took measurements of her intraocular pressure (IOP) to test for glaucoma. The IOP in both eyes was within normal limits, which is a good sign that the glaucoma is being kept at bay for now. Unfortunately, the day before the appointment Mara’s squinting and discharge returned. She had created a large new ulcer on her cornea. Dr. Renner said that it appeared as though Mara was having a uveitis flareup, which probably caused her to rub the eye and cause this latest ulcer. She has been placed back on the antibiotic ointment to treat the ulcer and we have started a new medication to treat the uveitis. The current plan is to recheck the ulcer in a week, and recheck the uveitis in one month. Because she still has vision in that eye, it would be great if she could keep it. But it’s possible that she might have to lose her vision in order to make her comfortable.
Because of her age, we want to avoid general anesthesia for Mara. Becuase of this, an enucleation (surgical removal of the eye) would not be our first treatment choice if the uveitis does not respond to medical management. It is more likely that our veterinarians would inject the eyeball with gentamicin. Gentamicin is toxic to the part of the eye that is the source of the pain. This procedure would still leave Mara blind in her left eye, but she would get to keep the eyeball and avoid anesthesia and surgery.
Luckily, Mara is a good little patient. Although she doesn’t like it, she willingly allows us to medicate her eye three times each day. Her sweet nature makes the whole process easier on everyone involved!
Mara is arguably one of SAFE’s cutest current residents. Although she is still reserved, she has begun to come out of her shell and let us get to know her a little better. At first she didn’t want to admit it, but she eventually caved and allowed us to see how much she loves neck scratches from people. She’s itchy under that long Cushing’s hair coat so she gets regular currying, and she has an appointment with Stacey from Equine Clipping Services to get a body clip like her friend Butter.
Mara loves her friend, Wind, and stands as close as she can to her during turnout even though they aren’t in the same paddock. She has to remain separated from other horses for turnout since she can’t eat hay due to having poor teeth. But the paddocks that she and Wind are in share a shelter that’s only separated by a thin fence, so they both spend the majority of their time together there.
We recently had Mara’s ACTH level checked to see if the dosage of medication that she’s on is doing the trick to control her PPID. Thanks to the Prascend, her ACTH is now back within normal limits. This means that we’ll keep her on the dose that she’s currently on rather than having to increase it. That’s good news for potential adopters because her medication only costs half as much as a full size horse’s dose would.
We’ve been trying to troubleshoot Mara’s eating habits, as she is not reliable about finishing her mashes. Although she has gained weight since arrival, she is not quite up to where we’d like her to be. We’ve been trying different combinations of pelleted feed types, amounts of water in her grain, and times of day that she eats. We’re getting closer to having her finish her meals than we were in the beginning, but putting weight on her is going to take a little longer because of this. Luckily, she’s much healthier now than she was when she was pulled from her previous situation. Even though it’s a slow process, we’re continuing to take steps in the right direction. And Mara seems much happier because of it.
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.
New horse Mara arrived at SAFE from Animal Control on 10/8. She is a 30-something year old Shetland pony who currently weighs about 450# and stands 10.2hh. She needs to gain about 50 pounds.
Mara got a dental, bloodwork, and vaccines through animal control prior to her arrival at SAFE. Her ACTH was 483 which confirms her diagnosis of PPID (Cushing’s Disease) and we have started her on half a tab of Prascend daily. She’ll have her ACTH level rechecked in 4 weeks. Mara doesn’t have great teeth so it is recommended that she be on a pelleted-only diet to prevent choke, and she’ll get a sedated dental recheck in 6 months.
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!
1. Heather E-K.
2. Laura R.
3. Tami L.
4. Beth E.
5. Jane M.
6. Janis G.
7. Whitney-Bear B.
Every horse deserves at least ten friends! Even a small monthly donation can make a difference. Plus, SAFE horse sponsors receive discounts at local businesses through the SAFEkeepers program!