This and That… HAY TEST RESULTS (and how to read them…), CHASTE TREE BERRIES, and a very sad FATAL lesson…

Today I have a bunch of this and that….


Last week, I told you that I was having my hay tested.  It is really easy through Dairy One Forage Lab.  Here is the link the the post all about how to test your hay.

Well, today I received my test results back via email.

I didn’t really know what these scores meant, so I asked the Founder Warrior.

This is what she said (how to read and calculate the numbers below)  VERY USEFUL INFORMATION!!:

So here’s what I look at: always look at the DM or dry matter column – we can’t compare sample results using the as fed column because every sample has a different level of moisture in it and that affects the “as fed” column.  We want to know what the numbers are regardless of water content.  So then I look at the WSC and starch.  WSC plus starch = NSC. No matter what else you read on the web NSC is by definition, without question,  WSC plus starch.  The WSC includes ESC plus fructans that don’t show up in ESC.  Thus it includes all of the potentially harmful carbs.  In this case the WSC plus starch is moderately high – 14.7 + 2.5 = 17.2% NSC.  Too high for a critical case like Tess.  I wouldn’t feed this to my own 19 year-old IR/Cushing’s horse who hasn’t had laminitis (knock on wood 3 times) unless I soaked it.

Here are the results I received from Dairy One:

Screen Shot 2013-11-05 at 10.44.31 AM


What is Chastetree Berry? (I copied this from ECIRHORSE.ORG)

CTB, Chastetree Berry (Vitex agnus-castus): An herb with some of the same effects as the drug pergolide and which may control equine Cushing’s disease symptoms in some horses. Most horses will need to be placed on the drug pergolide for effective control.

I am going to try this on my ponies.  Their Cushings isn’t as bad as MamaTess, so I think it could help, couldn’t hurt…  I will still keep them on the Pergolide.

If one peruses the internet, you can find many stories on how Chaste Tree Berries help regulate the hormones that create the Cushings condition.  However, veterinary reports say that most horses will still need Pergolide to maintain.  It seems that the Chaste Berries help with the symptoms but ARE NOT a cure.  So, DRs keep the horses on Pergolide.

If you read blogs and personal accounts, many owners say that 1 heaping teaspoon of ground Chaste Berries twice a day really helps.  Some say 3 heaping teaspoons spread out over 24 hours… I teaspoon for ponies, depending upon size.  Dosage seems to be trial and error.

My ponies will still receive their pergolide but I will add the Chaste Berries to support their bodies naturally – and I will note if I see any differences.

–Where to buy chasteberry?

I went tot Mountain Rose Herbs to order and Ground chaste berries were only $9 per pound!  So, I purchased 2 lbs for Tess and the ponies.

Screen Shot 2013-11-05 at 11.13.19 AM

This is my order…


Dawn,  that says that chastetree berry MAY help with the SYMPTOMS of cushings (i.e. shedding out, etc.)   There is no scientific data that it controls the ACTH in cushings horses.  That is why the pergolide is necessary.   Pergolide controls the ACTH, but sometimes doesn’t help with shedding out, etc.  Without the ACTH being controlled, the horse’s cushings disease is still raging, however the CTB will make it appear that the horse is better then he is.  This can lead to a false sense of security.  Uncontrolled cushings will cause uncontrolled IR, which in turn can cause laminitis/founder.   Both of which we wouldn’t wish on our worst enemy, having been there ourselves.

My pony is on pergolide and CTB.  He wouldn’t shed out on just the pergolide.  So the CTB has helped immensely with that. 

I just wanted to clarify that because people use CTB in place of pergolide, and they aren’t interchangeable.  They don’t address the same issues.  I need the scientific proof.  I spent a $1000 on meds for my IR pony for a medicine that was never going to help her.  Had I done my research, I would have found out that it wasn’t going to help her and saved myself a whole lot of money and stress/worry over why it wasn’t working.


I received this very sad email yesterday.   A kind reader wanted me to benefit from her loss – as she knows I have dogs.

I thought we could all learn from this tragic story – we could all learn about STRING/THREAD and dogs…

After all, string makes up baling twine and there are threads in every fabric we wear.

Here is her story:

I had to put my sweet dog to sleep on October 18th.  It could have been avoided.  She was a tiny Chihuahua.  Went with me to all the horse shows…everyone knew her.  anyway…I digress.   She stopped eating.  so after 36 hours of not eating I took her to the doctor, I had been supporting her with sugar water so she would not crash from low blood sugar, the doctor did an exam and nothing was abnormal except “her tongue was a little dark and discolored”  the vet chocked it up to dehydration, with out further examining WHAT ELSE could cause a discolored tongue. If only she had…my baby would still be here.   In stead she handed us an estimate for 450.00 worth of blood work and xrays they wanted to do to see what the problem was.  I was pissed.  And in the end the xrays and blood work would not have shown it either.
I refused to be held hostage and told them to just do a blood panel …which only showed a minor elevated white blood cell count   I took her home with some special food and a syringe and and antibiotics.  for 2 more weeks I did everything i could and she got worse.  So went to get a second opinion the day she was thrashing around writhing in pain.  
This doctor asked if she could do an xray and I agreed.  She could not see anything wrong….it is what she could not see that bothered her.  She could not see her intestines.   So she did a rectal exam and found a string.
The string was wrapped around the back of her tongue.  2 weeks earlier, had the other vet bothered to shine a flashlight in her mouth…it would have been able to save her. Strings do not show up on xrays.  
the string moved through her system and the body tries to get it out so her tiny intestines were working away and the string sliced through her intestines…I am heart broken.  She was a healthy happy little dog…2 weeks earlier and they could have cut and untangled that string before it got to her tummy.


Prayers to this poor baby… and the poor Human Mom who had to endure.  If this tragic story saves just one other dog,  I feel it is worth posting.


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HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth... if you like this, please pass it around!

Only one comment so far...

  1. Jody Brittain

    I ordered the Chaste Berry Powder, as I do suspect my 12 year old donkey, Buddy has a bit of cushings going on. He doe not have all the symptoms, but in the past couple months I noticed his mood is just not quite right. He has always been a bit sway back but you know how you can tell when something is just off? Well I am going to try this powder on him. What I was wondering, would it hurt to give some to my other donkey, 8 year old Star, and even my 17 year old horse Libby. Libby has been suspect of being insulin resistant for some time. I have not officially had her tested, as I have heard the test for Diabetes on horses can sometimes cause laminitis. So do you know if it would hurt them to give some to them also? I thought I would use my ‘special’ horse cookie dough and put the powder in it since it is only a teaspoon twice a day. Thank you.

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