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Tying Up

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  • Tying Up

    So, my horse and pony went out in their big pasture today for about 20-30min to get them acclimated to a big field again after a long and wet winter/spring in the limestone pens. Our pony has been off-work for about 3 weeks and was feeling very fresh, so long story short they both galloped around like racehorses for about 10 min at full speed in their giant pasture.

    My horse is a huge 17.1 WB that isn't in great shape (Jumps 3'3 1-2x week) b/c he was coming back from an injury until late February. When we brought him in he was panting extremely heavily and when I started walking him he was super stiff and his muscles were harder than normal, so the barn owner concluded that he was tying up. She gave him some BC2A paste and he almost immediately became much looser and wasn't breathing as hard, and acted totally normal and comfortable about 15 minutes later.

    My question is: Should tying up be a serious issue I need to worry about in the future? I'm hoping it is just a one time thing since he has never done it before and he definitely overdid it on the galloping since he is out of shape! Has anyone else experienced this and does it recur?


  • #2
    His body is telling you there's an issue. Time to listen.

    First thing to evaluate is diet: how much sugar/starch is he consuming?

    I highly recommend visiting the Veterinary Clinic section of www.ruralheritage.com and reading allll the goodies by Dr. Beth Valentine on EPSM (Equine Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy). Highly enlightening.
    <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.


    • #3
      I see it sometimes after they race. If you know you have one that will tie up, make sure and hand walk him IMMEDIATLY after any strenuous exercise. Walk until he stops blowing hard. I have a little mare right now that will tie up if you stand too long after a gallop

      "Pat the horse; kick yourself" - Carl Hester


      • #4
        Originally posted by Angelico View Post
        I see it sometimes after they race. If you know you have one that will tie up, make sure and hand walk him IMMEDIATLY after any strenuous exercise. Walk until he stops blowing hard. I have a little mare right now that will tie up if you stand too long after a gallop

        Isn't this just considered good horsemanship? I mean, who lets a blowing horse, breathing so hard he's rocking, just STAND there??

        Azoturia is managed through diet, as another said. And good horsemanship should go without saying. Never walk a horse who's in the throws of tying up. Keep warm/ out of chills. Administer low dose of banamine while waiting for vet to arrive. Watch for coffee colored urine so as to report to vet.
        Last edited by Sansena; May. 8, 2013, 08:15 AM. Reason: add.


        • #5
          Tying up is not always manageable through diet But in most cases, yes, that is true - diet as well as proper fitness for the work done.

          Definitely *never* try to move a horse who is in the process of tying up, unless he is physically in danger (ie a train or fire coming his way ).

          I honestly do not believe that a single dose of the BC2A could have affected him so immediately. It just can't act that quickly. He may have been on the verge of tying up but not quite there, and it resolved on its own.

          I don't remember the window of opportunity, but some time *after* a (suspected) tying up episode, the vet can run a blood test for muscle enzyme levels that would show the type of muscle damage caused by tying up. If that window has not passed, you could do that and see what you see.

          Either way, I think at this point I would check Selenium and Vit E levels and see if that needs tweaking. That is probably the biggest dietary cause of this - too low. If both are low, get working on the E first, since Se needs E to be absorbed, then test both again in a couple of months. Increasing E should bring Se up, but if Se is still low, then start supplementing that.

          FWIW, IMHO, a 17.1 horse who is fit enough to be jumping 3'3" 1-2 times a week SHOULD be fit enough to handle galloping fits. So on the flip side, if he's not fit enough to handle galloping fits, he shouldn't be jumping 3'3". I know that will roll some eyes, but it is just my opinion. With those big guys (I have one!) it's really important they be good and fit to help protect them from, well, themselves

          That said, I do realize that the added excitement and adrenaline of the situation can be the thing that pushes a horse over the edge.

          ETA- re-reading the OP, I'm not sure now if the horse has been off due to injury since Feb, or if he's been back in work since Feb after the injury. If the former, then disregard the above about fitness in this case
          The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


          • Original Poster

            I really don't think he has the chronic tying up episodes that some horses have (like EPSM) because a few weeks ago we were at the KState Vet school for a "post-purchase exam" and some X-rays. They ran a full blood panel and said everything is perfect but he had lost muscle mass and some of his top line while on rest. They recommended Amplify to raise his weight and he gets fed Ultium performance. He also gets Biotin and Platonum Performance complete joint which has most minerals in it.

            And that was the first time I've ever seen the BC2A but the barn owner has a horse that frequently ties up and she says it is a miracle worker. And I'm hoping it was just a one time thing because I really have never seem him move so fast!!

            He was competing 4' regularly before I got him in August but between moving barns a few times and changing instructors he just hasn't been in a good program long enough to be in shape


            • #7
              My horses who have moderate EPSM have only tied up twice in their lifetimes. One is now 11 and the other is 14. Their mom, the genetic carrier, only tied up giving birth and was never on any sort of special high fat diet because frankly, I didn't know she had it. I have also known EPSM horses with absolutely no history of tying up and very normal bloodwork, but had other EPSM symptoms that improved with diet. So although it is certainly possible your horse does not have it, it is a misconception that EPSM horses all have a history of tying up often. Difficulty maintaining muscle /fitness can be a symptom. They also seem more prone to injury.


              • #8
                If you think your horse tied-up, you should have your vet evaluate his muscle enzymes to determine if he needs to be rested. If he has incurred muscle damage, you needs to be on limited exercise or total stall rest for some time and slowly brought back.
                My guess is this was a mild issue, if he wasn't significantly afflicted and became normal so quickly.
                I doubt the amino acid paste had any effect on the improvement you saw. I also doubt he was tested for EPSM at the previous vet exam. Usually this is diagnosed via muscle biopsy, although some mutations can be tested for with a specific DNA test. This is not part of a routine health check.
                Always best to confer with your vet to be on the safe side.
                As Peter, Paul, and Mary say, a dragon lives forever.


                • #9
                  What Chocomare and Candico said. I've e-mailed with Dr. Valentine a bit about my TB with suspected EPSM. My horse has not had an outright tying up episode, although, in retrospect, I do think he has had a few mild tie ups that were misinterpreted as mild gas colics (he got banamine, which would help with either tying up or a mild gas colic). In any event, she said that any horse that ties up has SOME kind of muscle myopathy (probably EPSM). I.e., it doesn't just happen to a "normal" horse.