Our star lesson horse, Beauty, arrived about a month ago with quite an exceptional winter coat! Opinions varied on whether she looked most like a yak, mammoth, or teddy bear. With the weather getting warmer and wetter, Beauty had to receive a full clip! We did this in stages, leaving her some “leg warmers” at first. For a while she looked like a poodle!
Why do we bother clipping horses? A nice long winter coat helps keep a horse warm, which is great in cold weather, but not when it’s 84 and humid in March! Additionally, a wet or sweaty coat takes longer to dry out, and the horse can actually catch a chill instead of keeping warm! When Beauty arrived a month ago with her shaggy fur, she got a bath right away. She was squeegeed and toweled off at 11 a.m.…by 9 p.m., she STILL had wet spots! By contrast, a fully clipped or shedded out horse would have taken only an hour or two to fully dry.
Beauty’s coat was extra extra long because she has a disease called Cushing’s. It is more properly called Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction (PPID). The pituitary gland, which is located in the skull, right under the brain, is the master hormone controlling gland in the body. With this disease, a tumor grows on the pituitary gland- sending hormone production through the roof! One the easiest symptom to spot is hypertrichosis: Excessive/abnormal hair growth. Luckily for Beauty, her savvy owner Christy Zweig Niehues (Always August Farm) was familiar with this disease and grew suspicious when Beauty’s winter coat grew in like Rapunzel. She had Beauty diagnosed and put on medication in February. We expect to see continued improvement in Beauty’s hair coat, hoof quality, and overall vitality as the medication and carefully managed diet takes full effect. She can go on giving lessons and be a “normal” girl!
To learn more about Cushing’s, check out this article here