Two Ponies, Two Cases of EMS

Practical Horseman - - The Ride Of Your Life -

Natalie Henry, of Ge­or­gia, has two Dart­moor pony crosses. The geld­ing is half Quar­ter Horse; the mare is half Thor­ough­bred. They are half­si­b­lings through their sire. Natalie has owned both of them since be­fore they were 2 years old and says they have been “easy keep­ers” since day one. Un­for­tu­nately, she has had to man­age both ponies for EMS.

Natalie’s mare was di­ag­nosed first. “I no­ticed some­thing was off with her the spring she was turn­ing 5. I was rid­ing nearly ev­ery day and she was still pretty pudgy. She had a few fatty de­posits across her topline and a very cresty neck,” she ex­plains. “Our first real in­di­ca­tion that some­thing wasn’t right was a very slight bi­lat­eral lame­ness in the front. She just didn’t feel like her­self. Her coro­nary bands were warm and she was in­creas­ingly un­com­fort­able in front.”

The mare was show­ing early signs of lamini­tis, so Natalie im­me­di­ately pulled her hay and grain, kept her off the grass and called the vet, who ar­rived the next morn­ing. By then the mare had fasted for nearly 24 hours. The vet per­formed a blood test, which came back pos­i­tive for in­sulin dys­reg­u­la­tion. She was treated ag­gres­sively and re­cov­ered quickly.

The geld­ing’s case was sim­i­lar but oc­curred later in life. At age 13 he started de­vel­op­ing fatty de­posits and his weight was less re­spon­sive to both ex­er­cise and a re­stricted diet. Given his half-sis­ter’s history and Natalie’s height­ened aware­ness of the risks, she had him quickly tested for EMS. His num­bers came back in the nor­mal range, but Natalie and her vet opted to add a low dose of Thyro-L (levothy­rox­ine sodium pow­der) to his diet any­way.

“He isn’t clin­i­cally EMS, based on his blood­work, but every­thing in his life mir­rored what his sis­ter was ex­hibit­ing, and he’s re­sponded re­ally well to the same treat­ment.”

Natalie took all the right steps to treat and man­age her ponies’ EMS. She re­duced the su­gar in their di­ets by switch­ing them to a low-starch/ low-su­gar grain. In the spring­time, when the su­gar con­tent is higher in the grass, she re­duces their ac­cess to pas­ture by lim­it­ing their turnout time or keep­ing them in a small pad­dock with less grass. She also con­tin­ues to give them a daily low dose of Thyro-L and makes sure each horse gets reg­u­lar ex­er­cise.

“The feed, hay and supplement changes have mostly man­aged things with­out need for much more in­ter­ven­tion,” she says.

Now age 15 and 14, both ponies are thriv­ing and Natalie has even no­ticed a marked im­prove­ment in their tem­per­a­ments since be­gin­ning treat­ment for EMS.

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