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Dear Joane,
You are right that tying-up syndrome doesn't have any easy answers.  Most knowlegeable horse owners and veterinarians would agree that tying-up syndrome (exertional rhabdomyolysis, in the veterinary papers) is a complex metabolic disorder which often has a number of pre-disposing factors.  Some of these pre-disposing factors are familiar to horse owners such as yourself and include:
1. Diets that contain a large percentage of alfalfa products;
2. Feeding large amounts of grain during periods of intense exercise followed by rest days without decreasing the grain intake (classic Monday morning disease more often seen in draft horses);
3. Exercising young, excitable fillies on a cold windy day;
4. Horses involved in endurance events such as 3-Day, Combined Driving and Endurance where exhaustion and environmental factors such as heat/humidity combine to precipitate an episode;
5. and now researcher Dr. Stephanie Valberg has indentified a genetic pre-disposing factor to tying-up known as polysaccaride storage myopathy (PSSM) in certain families of horses.
In order for muscle to funtion "normally" in the exercising horse, there must be a readily available and properly regulated supply of energy in the form of adenosine tri-phosphate (ATP) to enable contraction and equally important RELAXATION of the muscle fibers.  In order for muscles to relax following contraction, calcium must actively be pumped out of the muscle cells.  This process and its regulation also require ATP as an energy source and may be the phase which -when disrupted - results in tying-up syndrome.
Glucose entry into muscle cells and its subsequent conversion to ATP represents an important energy source for muscle function and regulation.  When horses are impacted by athletic training and other enviromental stressors such as heat, humidity, and even long distance travel, the body produces molecules called beta-lipo-proteins which inhibit the conversion of glucose to glucose-6-phosphate in the muscle and other cells in the body as well.  This inhibition of the enzyme, hexokinase, reduces the energy supply available for proper muscle function and in some individuals may lead to tying-up syndrome.  This may explain why some horses tie-up at the start of exercise, during a fifteen minute warm-up.  If the cell can't access the energy, doesn't matter how much there is.  Like swimming in the ocean...water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink. 
The glycosides (plant sugars) found in our herbal supplement APF have been shown in vitro to increase the transport of glucose across the cell membrane and to correct the inhibition of hexokinase, allowing for adequate energy production within the muscle cell to provide for proper contractile function (AND RELAXATION, to occur).  An added benefit to the un-inhibited flow of glucose metabolism is that there is energy available for protein synthesis as well, a very important feature when training an athlete of any species.
Most of this information has been derived from the literature of human sports nutrition.  However, I have been working with this particular group of herbs for nearly seven years now in an effort to improve the safety and efficiency of the adaptive response to athletic training and competition in the horse.  Its application as a management tool for tying-up is a perfect example of the increased level of safety these herbs provide.  I have had excellent success in using it for even the most difficult cases of tying-up.
Hope this helps.
Michael Van Noy, DVM
Auburn Laboratories LLC

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