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Broodmare tying-up

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  • Broodmare tying-up

    I was wondring if anyone has had a mare in foal tye-up?

    My mare did on Tuesday fairly badly. She's at 8 months. Her blood results showed 30,000 (I can't remember units just the number). My vet was out again today to take more blood to see how she's coming along. We're treating her accordingly, and hoping this isn't a late pregnancy tendency she's developed. She's had two foals before with no issues.

    He did palp her on Tuesday and the foal is very active.

    However, my vet says there are no studies on how tying-up while pregnant can affect the foal that he knows of. Does anyone have any experience with this?

    I should add that she is eating only good quality timothy/alfalfa hay with a ration balancer as she is a super easy keeper. I am adding a vitamin E + selenium supplement too. She is also pretty active in the paddock normally.

  • #2
    I wouldn't worry unduly inasmuch as a foal is essentially a parasite. It will take what it needs from the mother to the mother's detriment. If all you are doing is hydrating the dam, you should be ok, I think specific drugs are more detrimental.

    I suppose the greatest fear would be the tying up leading to a nasty torsion colic requiring surgery?
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    • #3
      Pull blood to test the selenium level before supplementing with anything with significant amounts. While adding excess E won't hurt, adding excess Se could.

      It won't hurt, and may well help, to add some relatively significant magnesium. By that I mean, 15-20gm a day. Although, she should be getting plenty plenty with all that alf. But OTOH, if she's getting too much calcium and causing an imbalance in electrolytes... Just a thought

      Can you point to anything that might have recently changed that could have led to this? Maybe an extra-stressful turnout situation, something?

      Which ration balancer and how much?
      The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


      • Original Poster

        My vet pulled blood again today and suggested the E + Sel. She's on Masterfeeds VTM 20 @ less then 1kg/day or about a little less then half a 3 qt scoop. She always has hay and water in front of her (and the water and hay are far apart so she has to walk a distance to get to them).


        Nothing changed in turnout. No change in routine period. She may have seen a wild turkey or a deer and decided to freak out... But still... that shouldn't cause her to tye-up, right?


        • #5
          If she is not known to tear around often and then suddenly runs around at high speed and gets herself worked up and her heart rate elevated and she's prone to tying up (as in her body is even if this if the first time it's reared it's head) yes this could very well trigger a tying up episode. It's often seen more commonly in highstrung mares. They may seem perfectly fine until they start to do work then they will studdenly start becoming lazy and stiff, and will often sweat a lot more than what you would expect for the amount of work they were doing. So yes a freak out episode could definitely trigger it.


          • #6
            Tying up in a broodmare is a big hairy deal. See below for what I would do in your shoes. Tying up can be a life-threatening disorder. I nearly lost my gelding to tying up when he was in the care of a trainer. Severe tying up can result in an abortion of the foal due to the rush of inflammatory prostaglandins due to the muscle injury and subsequent kidney injury tying up produces. I don't mean to scare you, but this is something to get on top of rather than let it slide (the squashing of the prostaglandins, I mean... I know you were right on top of the tying up problem).

            In the meantime, once you've sorted out the acute stage: Tying up or PSSM syndrome is a problem with how the muscles metabolize glucose. It's a problem aside from the pregnancy. I had a gelding with tie-up and PSSM - he never had a problem with colic, it was always a huge problem with muscle spasms, charlie horses, and one episode of very severe tying up with did cause him permanent kidney damage. One time, he had a severe charlie horse in his neck, such that the muscles bulged out the side of his neck and he couldn't turn his head. I found him in the stall with his head on the ground in sheer misery. As I massaged his head waiting for the vet, he groaned, literally, in the relief. He had one massive headache from the severe muscle clenching down the length of his neck and into his jaw. Vet injected him with all kinds of drugs and it took me a week to massage out the bulge and with shaving the hair we could see massive bruising where the muscles had actually torn. If anyone has had a charlie horse, you know how painful they are. In the huge muscles across the horse's rump, even their ribs, shoulders and down their neck, it is sheer agony for them.

            You need to make changes to the feed, specifically low NSC diet, because insulin levels/usage plays a huge role in polysaccharide storage myopathy. Check her grain very closely and start switching her over to a guaranteed low NSC grain feed - preferrably under 10%. You may have to switch her ration balancer to a guaranteed low NSC. Her hay as well must be tested low NSC. For now, I would rinse the alfalfa hay in water for 30 minutes to soak out the sugar. All you want the alfalfa for is its protein, lysine and calcium. You can do without the sugar content. Treat this very similar to Cushing's, actually, except your fear is not laminitis, but rather chronic tying up. Keep her outside and moving as much as possible, and avoid sudden heavy exertion - in other words, if you notice her suddenly running around and being silly, go out and catch her and make her calm down, keep her walking slowly to cool out and move out the acids out of the muscles, but the moment she shows signs of tying up, stop walking her, confine in a stall, put her on flunixin (Banamine) and call your vet. You can also use Bute, but Banamine is less kidney-toxic (already a threat with tying up) and discourages prostaglandins which are produced in severe medical illness, severe injury and the like - tying up falls into this category of prostaglandin production!!

            Encourage lots of water intake. My gelding also had problems utilizing electrolytes, so I always had to supplement and he was on high Vitamin E (not very much selenium at all), and I also put him on 2000 mg of Omega-3. Once I figured out all of that, he stayed pain-free for the rest of his life.


            For what it's worth, I would have this mare on a week of Banamin (also goes by flunixin, cronyxin) about 5-10 cc, especially once you know she is drinking water really well. I would also consider a temporary boost with Regumate - talk to your vet about how to do a Regumate boost. Both these discourage prostaglandin effect and inhibit uterine contraction during an illness-related threatened abortion, which is a complication you really don't want to endure.

            I would put her on electrolytes to encourage a ton of water drinking, especially if her urine is brown, but watch her for edema which would indicate some kidney damage or failure. I'm quite sure your vet is all over this and you would have known by now if kidney damage is severe. It is very normal after tying up to see dark brown or bloody red urine. Encouraging water to help the kidneys flush is very important. Keep her still, quiet and contained until you know the urine is running clear again. Then, let her loose into a contained paddock for another week or so and gradually reintroduce her to your herd. Always, from now on, ensure her fluid status is top rated and encourage drinking with electrolytes in her feed.

            And again, reduce her total NSC in her diet. Low carb, low sugar from now on. No sugar cubes, no molasses (if you use beet pulp, which is excellent, after soaking it, then flush hot water over it a couple times through a strainer until it runs clear - this washes any extra molasses down the drain), no apples, no carrots. No treats.

            Also, be encouraged - kidneys have a wonderful way of self-healing when it's only minor damage. They can heal up to normal after small insults like this and you'd never know there was a problem. (The kidney insult comes from the muscle breakdown resulting from the damaged muscles, and those junky things float around the blood. It's the kidneys' job to filter all that junk out.) Your vet can monitor kidney function by blood tests measuring the creatinine. Damaged kidneys extrude a chemical called creatinine and this level goes up when there has been an insult. But like I said, most cases are minor and things heal up perfectly and the mare would never know there was ever a problem. It sounds like you caught this early and that, my dear, is EVERYTHING. {{HUGS}}
            Last edited by rodawn; Dec. 21, 2012, 05:11 PM. Reason: typos
            Practice! Patience! Persistence!


            • #7
              I also want to add - when this broodmare goes into labor, make sure you have a prepared wet mash, whether that is her soaked low NSC pellets or soaked/rinsed beet pulp with her NSC pellets, - - but to that add a dose of electrolytes and try to get her interested in that feed as soon as possible after she has done her newborn mommy licking,sniffing, talking thing. She will naturally have a strong urge to drink a lot of water because she will begin lactating and this actually flushes electrolytes OUT of her system, therefore, it becomes even more important to add them.

              Also, always use a commercial formulated electrolyte mix so the balances are correct - magnesium to potassium to sodium to calcium to phosphorous ratios are very important and the commercial mixes have the correct ratios. Trying to formulate something yourself could result in too much magnesium to potassium which can actually induce cardiac arrhythmias or increased tying up problems, so it's not worth the risk.

              Some are flavoured, try to get one with miniscule sugar sweetener. My horse liked orange, but many love raspberry flavor.

              If you're worried about her colicing from the stress of her recent tying up, or after the radical hormone shift of delivery-to-lactation, then a lot horses love raspberry, blueberry or even strawberry yogurt. No-added-sugar berry formulations (preferrably without aspartame or artificial sweeteners if you can find it) are better as it takes more work to extract any natural sugars from berries than it does say with other fruits. The yogurt just adds a wee bit of living culture to their gut which some horse people swear by.
              Practice! Patience! Persistence!


              • Original Poster

                Thanks Rodawn! You have given me a lot to think about, and that is exactly the kind of info I wanted to hear.

                I did catch it right away. I thought she was colicing at first and called my vet to get to me immediately. By the time he got here I changed my own prognosis to tying-up and he agreed. He tubed her so that she got fluids right away, and then treated her for tying-up. She's on banamine for a week as you said, and I'm giving her this paste for a week as well.

                I will definitely start soaking her hay, and add an electrolyte. She's drinking really well at the moment, and acting like nothing happened so I'm not too worried about colic. She's a very level headed mare. I think I am taking this worse then her!

                I will ask about the Regumate when he calls tomorrow with the updated blood results. I hate that stuff as I always manage to get some on me no matter how careful I am.

                Then I hope this weather shifts so that I can actually make it to the feed store and buy a bag of Podium.


                • #9
                  In 1988 during Glory's first pregnancy she seemed to be tying up very badly, She would barely move. I called a local livestock vet who also thought that she must be tying up. Nothing that he did seemed to work. I ended up shipping her to New Bolton. She was much better by the end of the trip. The final result was that the foal must have been sitting on a nerve causing pain. Eventually she was fine, never to have another problem like that again in her succeeding 12 pregnancies. I hope everything ends up as well for you!



                  • #10
                    My mare tyed up very badly having her third foal. Previously had not known her to have any history of it, but in hindsight she did have other symptoms of EPSM. All of her foals had EPSM. We did have to bottle feed that particular foal the first few days as I think she was uncomfortable and didn't want the foal to nurse... Might want to consider whether you would want to rebreed her without doing a muscle biopsy.


                    • Original Poster

                      Ya, we're going to do a biopsy in the spring. Apparently, now (being winter) is not the best time to do it. My vet thinks it's highly unlikely that it's EPSM or PSSM... but you never know. I've had her my whole life so I know her whole medical history and behaviour, and this took me by surprise. But, yes, I do want to know because I really don't want to breed it on. Regardless of how wonderful her babies are.


                      • #12
                        Both my vet and I had mares where we each thought "no way" to EPSM, but basically talked each other into the biopsy. My mare just was occasionally prone to a bucking fit especially in cold weather and a little cranky/difficult about shoeing which both I attributed to her being a chestnut mare. She also would move more pony-like at times contrary to her breeding, Hanoverian thoroughbred cross. She had never tyed up till that third delivery...

                        Good for you to do the biopsy. I would have some colostrum on stand by and start diet modifications right away. Good luck and best wishes for a happy, healthy foal!


                        • #13
                          I agree with Candico about the possibility of EPSM/PSSM, which would be a major concern with a broodmare, since if it is PSSM, it would be inheritable. There are some other ways to test without doing the muscle biopsy right away. We did about 15 min of W/T/C on a lunge, then did a blood draw. An indicator is elevated muscle enzymes post exercise. Also, Univ. of Minnesota can test through DNA in a hair sample that you can submit on your own, although this only tests for one type of PSSM (there are two types). The DNA test is $65 or so. I ended up doing a muscle biopsy anyway.
                          Hopefully this isn't the case with your mare; I have a 5 yo with PSSM that I've been struggling to deal with since April; it can be a very frustrating disease.


                          • #14
                            Animal Genetics tests for PSSM for $35 and you have results within a week.
                            Only two emotions belong in the saddle: One is a sense of humor. The other is patience.


                            • Original Poster

                              I am in Canada. Export permits cost more then the procedure!

                              We don't want to do the w/t/c test as we don't want to aggravate anything until the foal is born. We're letting her heal from this episode and managing her as though she does have EPSM/PSSM. There is no rush at this point as she's already in foal and I can't unmake that decision based on the results. So, the biopsy can wait.

                              I have however just booked her into a clinic for foaling.

                              Oh geez, I hope it's nothing hereditary. Her 4 year old daughter is just stunning, and super talented. She is supposed to, after a career, be part of my breeding program.


                              • #16
                                Some very good advice here re feeding, and adding Vit-E/sel and omega-3s (eg ground flax). You might also look at DMG - very inexpensive, and not something you can overdose. Good for circulation, supports the immune system , good for stress, and enables utilization of feed.
                                Sunny Days Hanoverians


                                • #17
                                  Since she's really never shown symptoms until now, my guess is that:

                                  1. If it IS EPSM/PSSM, it's most likely the milder type -- which won't show up on the DNA test.

                                  2. She likely has only one copy of the "milder type" gene, and therefore will pass it on only 50% of the time.

                                  Glad you're doing the biopsy. Perhaps you could have the daughter tested at the same time as well? I believe the more mildly affected horses respond better to the high fat diet. If the daughter is affected, getting her started now will likely give her a normal, healthy life. There will be some soul searching as far as rebreeding the mare though.....
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