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Tying up

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    Tying up

    My horse "tyed up" yesterday. She used to tye up at the track and in the four years I have had her, it's happened a few times but not on any regular basis. She was off for two days (lives in a large paddock big enough for her to canter/buck) and I turned her out in the arena to play which she did for about 10 minutes before she tyed up. I normally turn her out in the arena before riding it is part of her normal routine- though yesterday she was pretty exuberant and was playing pretty hard. The vet came out and gave her Banamine, a shot of Vitamin E/Selenium, and a sedative. She seemed to be feeling better after that. She also took some blood and will re check blood in two weeks. She recommends switching to grass hay (my horse hates grass hay but she won't have a choice). Before she was getting 1/2 alfalfa and 1/2 oat hay. She also gets equine senior, beet pulp, platinum performance, and omega horse shine on days that I ride. The vet feels she is at a good weight. She used to get Ultium but after a tying up incident about 18 months ago the vet said to discontinue that unless it is a day she is really working hard. She normally gets ridden 4-6 days per week but last week was a lighter week (due to my stupid job). I'm going to try to get her ridden more consistently and will go to lunging her before turning her out so she warms up before she plays. Vet is recommending two weeks off (just hand walking) before returning to work so muscles recover. At any rate can anyone offer any other advice for managing this problem?

    Although not all horses that tie up have EPSM, it is a factor in some of them, somewhat less than fully understood but certainly something we know a lot more about today than we did even 10 years ago. Probably worth reading up on.

    The idea of eliminating grain on days when a horse isn't working is archaic but probably makes good sense. In the old days tying up/azoturia was, of course, called "Monday morning sickness" since it happened to horses on a Monday who'd been idle on Sunday but continued to get their full feed. This was in the days when horses actually WORKED HARD, so the difference between a full day's work and a day standing around idle was a lot more marked than it is nowadays when horses might work an hour a day and be considered in "hard work".

    The dietary management of a horse that ties up is complex, and I'd avail myself of some good veterinary book chapters on the disease and the recommendations rather than getting a bunch of advice on the internet.

    Worth checking selenium levels, for sure.

    Finally, and I'm not entirely certain this doesn't belong in the "conventional wisdom" bucket with a lot of other stuff that is just no longer true, I have heard (take that for what it's worth) that mares are slightly more prone to a tie-up in the fall when they're going through one of their transitional heat cycles. It did happen to me during a CCI*--mare was in heat, weather was cold and wet, and she tied up on phase C.

    Anyhow, good luck. Lots of old-fashioned advice on this topic, some of which needs careful sifting in light of modern knowledge and your individual animal, including the story I told you about my mare.
    Last edited by deltawave; Oct. 8, 2012, 09:03 AM.
    Click here before you buy.


      I know what worked for my gelding who, admittedly, did not have full-blown cases of tying up but more muscle-cramping incidents, was putting him on electrolytes. He just tended to not drink enough BEFORE he went out and exercised. We also of course put him on low starch feed- I used Nutrena Safe Choice for years, with Empower and/or alfalfa hay added when that wasn't enough to keep weight on him.


        I don't know what your weather has been doing, but if my gelding ties up, it is when there is some type of major temperature change. He tied up (along with a friend's horse) at River Glen this spring (much cooler there than it had been here) and will tie up if worked hard/ gets quite sweaty on those random warm days in the winter/ cool days in the summer. I've switched to a high-fat, low-starch feed which is both good for his ulcery-prone self and for the tying. I also use electrolytes. He has only tied up maybe 4 times in the past 5 years, but it has always been when we have a temperature shift (is 50 here today whereas it was 75 on Friday- gotta be careful!).
        Last edited by FoxChaser; Oct. 7, 2012, 06:22 PM.


          There are a couple of equine vets who have done probably the majority of the research and public info on "tying Up" and forms of EPSM

          Dr. Beth Valentine out of Oregon State Univ

          and Dr. Valberg out of Univ Minn.

          both of these sites have links to various information about EPSM and the different versions. In some of them they talk of TB mares having a different variety of tying. There is also a difference in causes...some are glycogen ("body stored sugar) storage and another is related to the biochemical pathways in which muscles operate (having to do with the calcium channels I believe). anyway, lots of good info out there from the 2 big experts in the field. You can also just google EPSM. Dr. Valentine also reads muscle biopsies sent to her.


            Original Poster

            Thanks for all the responses so far and any more that might arrive. It appears that there are numerous feed supplements for horses prone to tying up. I don't know if it's worth it to feed anything like that- I'll talk to my vet about it. On smartpak I searched "tying up" and there were about 6 different supplements- some of them quite pricey. She really doesn't do this that often but it sure sucks when it happens.


              Tying up

              After My off track Stb tyed up at the recommendation of my vet and specialist at Smart Pak he gets E, Se, Mag (vitamin E, Selenium and Magnesium) and electrolytes daily. 24/7 turnout is great also


                Both at the track and with the foxhunters, we had a lot of luck with One AC

                That and some beer. :-)

                "Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all." ~2001 The Princess Diaries


                  I am quite experienced at managing a horse that ties up, and I detailed the protocols that have worked well for me in this blog:


                  The two components that are key to managing a horse that ties up are 1) providing nutritional support through offering a high fat diet and 2) managing exercise levels so that all the horse's exertion is accounted for.

                  Read the blog on the link above, and click the links below to learn more about the nutritional requirements of horses that tie up for whatever reason (PSSM, RER, EPSM).
                  Inner Bay Equestrian


                    All the advice people took the trouble to type and the first thing you want to do is buy a supplement? Oy. The industry wins. I give up.
                    Click here before you buy.


                      Original Poster

                      Originally posted by deltawave View Post
                      All the advice people took the trouble to type and the first thing you want to do is buy a supplement? Oy. The industry wins. I give up.
                      Not the first thing I want to do. I am just trying to consider all of the options and what I can do to help my wonderful girl to be happy and healthy.


                        Generally, tying up is a "horse management" problem. As others have said, often (very) related to EPSM. My daughter's EPSM horse was going Intermediate with a managed diet. Don't throw a supplement at a problem in the hopes of a quick fix.


                          Really sorry that you're dealing with this. Seeing your horse tie up is awful.

                          There is a ton of stuff to read out there, and a million different theories even from reputable people. When I was researching, I only found two constants: first, you have to experiment to see what works for the horse; and two, e & selenium if you're in an area deficient in se.

                          Good luck.


                            I've been managing a confirmed PSSM gelding for over 3 years now. There's numerous reasons for tying up so I'd first determine what the specific cause is. Once you determine the cause, you'll be able to pinpoint more specific management practices. Drs. Valentine and Valberg don't always agree with each other's recommendations (even though mine is not a draft, I had to go with Dr. Valentine's VERY high oil route), so you will have to sort out what's best for your particular horse and situation....but diagnosis was key for me.


                              Ditto what WP said. a muscle biopsy by a vet who has done them before (actually a simple procedure) will tell you if they have EPSM and if there are certain other specifics involved. The high fat diet and NO GRAIN OR GRAIN BYPRODUCTS is essential. I can not even use the "low NSC" (non structural carbohydrate (ie sugars) "EPSM friendly" grain feeds....Healthy Edge Strategy etc. Even the ones OK'd by Dr. Valentine. Oil and alfalfa pellets (Dr. Valentine's cheaper recommendation) has worked for me and I have had my horse in a number of situations where he would have absolutely tied up in the past. I am in a E-Se deficient area so I supplement that also, but it is the high fat, NO GRAIN and daily exercise, no stalling that is vital for us. I don't do any other fancy supplements.


                                The one time my TB tied up, we (my vet, nutritionist and I) attributed it to environmental reasons as in she just moved to an eventing training barn, was a bit stressed and not eating much and was worked much too hard too soon by the trainer. Fortunately the blood work showed it was a very mild case, even though it really scared me since I had never seen a horse tie up.

                                I did make some changes to her diet based on the recommendations of the nutritionist and my horse has not had another incident in 3 years. The changes included adding a low starch grain, e & sel, but no fancy supplements.

                                If she continued to tie up, I probably would have gone forward with a biopsy to test for PSSM.

                                Here is an interesting chart showing a decision tree about which route to take for testing:

                                Proud owner of a Slaughter-Bound TB from a feedlot, and her surprise baby...!


                                  Originally posted by Saskatoonian View Post
                                  Really sorry that you're dealing with this. Seeing your horse tie up is awful.

                                  There is a ton of stuff to read out there, and a million different theories even from reputable people. When I was researching, I only found two constants: first, you have to experiment to see what works for the horse; and two, e & selenium if you're in an area deficient in se.

                                  Good luck.
                                  The reality is that there are several different metabolic disorders that cause problems that exhibit themselves as generic "tying up" symptoms. Look at research by Dr. Stephanie Valberg (UMinn) and others associated with KER, along with the studies that demonstrate the effectiveness of a high fat/low starch diet in combatting these. Look at the Rural Heritage site if you want to go the DIY route, or just read about Dr. Beth Valentine's work in this field. Read my blog (see link above) for management tips that work.

                                  When I first started to delve into this topic almost 10 years ago, there WASN'T much information out there, and what there was was based on old wive's tales--this is NOT the case anymore. Now there is solid research and genetic analysis that can pinpoint exactly what genetic makeup is causing your horse's symptoms.

                                  Not everyone is prepared to take on the task of correctly managing this type of horse, and some settings are very poorly suited for keeping one in. But here is clear evidence that exercise regulation (meaning you control the amount as well as the duration of any exercise and keep it at a constant level) together with nutritional support (a balanced high fat/low starch diet) WILL enable the great majority of horses to work safely. How you approach these two critical issues will determine whether you are successful or not, but education is the key.
                                  Inner Bay Equestrian


                                    M. O'Connor...
                                    I couldn't get your link to work without establishing a username that required a lot of personal info...any other way to read your blog?


                                      Sorry--I didn't realize it wasn't on an open forum.

                                      Recognize and Manage a Horse That Ties Up
                                      Inner Bay Equestrian


                                        Dr Kellon runs a discussion groups on Yahoo dedicated to different disorders. I have found the one focused on EPSM and PSSM to be unbelievably helpful.

                                        She also runs a nutrition class online that helps you learn how to balance your horses diet right down to the vitamins and minerals.

                                        The first three things I would evaluate in your horses diet are:

                                        1. Magnesium

                                        2. Vitamin E

                                        3. Salt

                                        All of these can be added to your horse's diet without large expense or danger of over supplementing.

                                        My personal experience with SmartPak and an horse with EPSM- don't waste your money. I spent the last 5 or so months feeding Smart Muscle Stamina at their recommendation after a webinar with little notable result. I wish they offered a simple (and inexpensive) Branch Chain Amino Acid (BCAA) supplement and ALCAR.

                                        I'm not sure of your horse's breed but I noticed you mentioned they are off the track. If it is a QH I would look more strongly into EPSM/PSSM. My horse is 100 times better now that she is eating the diet balanced with Dr. Kellon and the group's help. She is NOT on high fat. She is in ALCAR and it has made a world of difference. I personally, based on my experience with my horse, don't believe high fat is the way to go.

                                        Good luck!