PSSM confirmed, where we go from here

I got Dante’s test results back today via email and it confirmed what I suspected – he is PSSM Type 1 positive:


Perhaps it is my experience with Pepper and her Cushings, but I’ve been suspicious from Day 1. I knew that buying a draft cross I would have a higher chance of a PSSM prognosis but other information was tipping the scales:

1.) History – he was an easy to get along horse but was sitting in a pasture, just used occasionally by the grandkids. According to the owner (which I don’t believe) he had been used as a lesson horse. Why hadn’t he been kept in the lesson horse program? He would have been a prime candidate – except lesson horses have to work hard and be put up wet, day in and day out and a PSSM horse will not be able to do that.

My thought is he washed out pretty early as a riding horse and people didn’t know exactly why.

2.) When the trainer, who sold him to me, upped his feed in order for him to gain weight she said he grew “uncomfortable” and wasn’t acting himself. If the feed and work was increased that wouldn’t alleviate PSSM symptoms, most likely they would have worsened.

3.) This trainer also told me that on a day where he kept being worked back to back by multiple people he got irritated and out of sorts. By nature though he is an easy going horse – was he just irritated because he was lazy or was he sore? Again, this goes back to how muscles cannot be over taxed by a PSSM horse unless diet is adjusted (and since he wasn’t diagnosed at that time, no adjustments had been made).

4.) Poor topline and a slightly sunken back, while underweight, with poor muscle on the hindquarters. This was being blamed on being fed with other horses in a pasture where he had to fight for feed – but again, remember, when the trainer increased the feed, he was uncomfortable.

5.)  A good stepover at walk, a poor one at trot. Poor locomotion, especially from the hindquarters is a classic PSSM symptom. After talking with @collecting_spots on IG, I’m waiting on an email back from Uckele on what type of joint supplement would be best for him considering his age but also one that will work with his PSSM.

6.) Increased work by me resulted in a lot of rebellion on the lunge line. This I think was due to several factors but considering where he was when he first came and now, he is far more comfortable taking trot.

I noticed this week a great improvement and willingness to move out where before I was practically have to drag him along. I believe the reason for the improvement is twofold: 1.) better diet with proper supplementation; and 2.) strengthening his back through consistent but short workouts.

So it’s time to regroup and fine tweak his feed. First, he is getting one scoop (2 lbs, 6.4 ounces) of Grostrong 13, a pelleted low carb feed, and beet pulp shreds with no molasses (2 scoops = 2 lbs, 10.16 ounces).

Using a postal meter, I zero out the weight of the scoop and then weigh again with the feed. These photos show why weighing gives a better estimate then a “scoop” – look at the difference! And remember, the bag label is by weight.


Next what supplements is he now receiving (I’ll be adding a Joint supplement once I confirm what he can safely have due to his disease)?

Omega Horseshine (flax seed for omegas)
Salt (loose salt mixed in feed insures he gets his daily ration)
California Trace (Zinc and Copper)
Magnesium Oxide
Vitamin E


He is not keen on the MagOx or the ALCAR, so the I’m thinking what I will do is buy some shredded Alfalfa and I will mix these two into that (like 1/2 cup that will be put on top of his beet pulp). The CA Trace, Omega Horseshine, Salt an Vit. E he eats readily.

He has free access to his own pasture but that grass is pretty much dead for winter. The round bale hay he eats from is from a next door hay field on the same property so I will be sending it off for hay testing this month. I can do this locally with my Ag office but my experience with them is they test for very little, mostly protein levels, and I need more data then that such as the Selenium levels.

Still to do:

1.) Blood test
2.) Selenium testing (I am at a border area of poor to sufficient Selenium and overfeeding this can result in death).
3.) Visit from the Chiro to discuss the roached back. This has improved somewhat probably just due to weight gain and padding along the spine. I need to find out if this is effecting poor hind use although it doesn’t seem to bother him.
4.) Adding in a joint supplement.

Workouts – I will cover in another post.

This entry was posted in Dante, hay & feed, PSSM, supplements, vet visit. Bookmark the permalink.

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