Horse Health & Care

Tying-Up in Horses

What is Tying Up ?

The following list contains the possible symptoms of Tying Up. Tying up is usually exercise-related. Symptoms below are most likely to appear within the first 1/2 hour of work. Some horses may not exhibit all symptoms. Tying up seems to be more common in young Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds who are either not fit or high strung, however, it can occur in any breed.

Tying-Up in Horses
Tying-Up in Horses

Most common Tying Up symptoms:

  • Obvious discomfort
  • Abnormally short strides, muscle stiffness
  • Difficulty in movement. Horse may refuse to move
  • Muscle hardening/contracting with hindquarter spasms, mostly in croup area
  • Elevated pulse & respiration

Possible additional Tying Up symptoms:

  • Flaring of the nostrils
  • Slow capillary refill time
  • Pawing
  • Pale gums
  • Sweating
  • Short, stiff gait
  • Brown colored urine

Management of Tying Up

Call your veterinarian immediately. Ask the veterinarian if you should administer any treatment prior to his arrival. Ask what you may do to comfort your horse until he arrives.

Do NOT move your horse! Moving your horse even a few steps may make the condition even worse. However, you do want to keep him on his feet.

Protect the horse from chills by using a blanket.

Encourage the horse to drink, it will help flush his kidneys of waste.

Why do horses become Tied-up?

A horse becomes tied-up when his muscles have been overworked. The muscles become damaged from toxic by-products that are produced during the work. These toxic by-products are produced from the blood’s inability to carry enough oxygen to the muscles. High glycogen content and abnormal polysaccharide in the muscles. Sometimes, defective calcium regulation. When a horse ties up repeatedly, it may lead to kidney damage.

What can you do to prevent Tying-up?

Feed a low or no-carbohydrate diet with high fat. Warm up and cool down your horse properly with at least 15 minutes of walking. Don’t exercise the horse to a point where it is stressful. Provide turnout as often as possible.

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