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Tying up – what to know about the disease

Published: 2022-03-11 08:19:10 Categories: Guides Rss feed , Horse health Rss feed

Koń w derce na padoku

Sporadic exertional rhabdomyolysis known as tying up is a serious equine disease that is caused by improper metabolism in the muscles. It commonly happens after a horse has had a break from riding, during which it didn’t get enough exercise – starting riding again might be too exerting. As a consequence of metabolism disturbance, muscle cells swell up causing the horse a strong pain. Those cells die and release their myoglobin into the bloodstream and urine – changing its color to red. It’s crucial to act fast, as untreated, the disease can even cause death.

Causes of tying up

The main cause of tying up is intense exercise right after a break during which the horse’s feed had not been reduced. This disease is observed in all horses despite their age or training regime. Of course, that doesn’t mean every horse that is coming back to work will develop tying up. Nevertheless, it’s important to remember to gradually increase the intensity of exercises of horses that had a break.

Koń i jeździec na treningu

Another possible cause of tying up might be an improper warm-up before or cool-down after a ride. You should never end a ride if your horse still has labored breathing. Tying up can also be caused by potassium or other micronutrient deficiency; that’s why proper nutrition is extremely important. Less commonly, this disease can be caused by weather. Low, yet above zero temperature, rain, and strong wind acting on a horse that is turned out can lead to developing tying up. In this case, one can mistake a cold for tying up. Nevertheless, any concerning symptoms should be consulted with a veterinarian.

Tying up symptoms

Usually, symptoms appear a few minutes after starting a ride or right at the end of a training session. The most common symptoms include:

  • restlessness and labored breathing,
  • resisting forward movement,
  • excessive sweating despite adequate cool-down,
  • stiff gait,
  • tense and hard muscles, especially in the croup area,
  • difficulty in moving the limbs,
  • symptoms of mild colic,
  • problems with urination, in some cases hematuria.

Koń w boksie stajnia

What to do if the symptoms point to tying up?

If you suspect your horse might be tying up, then contact a veterinarian immediately. While waiting for the vet, you should observe your horse, especially the color of its urine to then give as much information as possible to the veterinarian. You should put a rug on the sick horse and ensure it has a quiet and calm place to rest. Due to the muscle damage, transporting a horse with tying up is not recommended.

How to prevent tying up

Weterynarz i koń mięśniochwat

Tying up is a serious disease but some preventative measures might decrease the risk of it. So how to prevent tying up? Here are a few tips:

  • On days your horse has a break, you should still make sure it has enough exercise, for example, turn out or walker can be a great idea.
  • During a break from intense training, reduce the amount of your horse’s feed.
  • Ensure that you bring your horse back to work gradually.
  • It’s recommended to give a horse electrolytes when you have an intense training plan.

Every rider should familiarize themselves with basic information about tying up to be able to react as fast as possible in case a horse develops this disease.

The article is informative, and no diagnosis should be made based on it. Remember that in situations involving your horse's health, you should immediately contact your veterinarian, who, as a qualified person, will make the appropriate diagnosis and determine the treatment.

If you’re looking for care products for your horse, then check out the Equishop offer.

Should you have any questions or doubts, feel free to contact us.

Equestrian store: +48 784 039 784


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