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How We Solved our Tie-up Problem
I have just solved (I hope and pray) the very same problem you
described with Tiki. My mare is an App with very large muscles. She tied up
twice this summer, both times during the beginning of a semi- vigorous
conditioning ride in the mountains where we live. We did the same blood work
that you did and everything came back normal, except the selenium level was
low. Also, her enzymes were high which indicated, as you know, that a bona
fide tie-up had occurred.
Everyone that I talked to, including our vet, said that this is a management
problem that can be solved. I was very glad to hear that because I love this
horse and have put a lot of work into training and conditioning. These are
the things I have learned about managing tie-up. Maybe one of them will be
helpful to you or to someone else struggling with this same situation.
1. Horses with a history of tie-ups may not be getting enough oxygen in their
blood to remove lactic acid from their muscles. Therefore, our vet has us
feed 2 ounces of red cell builder, half in the AM and half in the PM.
2. Our pasture is selenium deficient (we didn't know this) so we now feed a
vitamin E selenium mix once daily in the manufacturer's recommended dose. We
did not have to give the shots like you did, though.
3. Too much calcium is not good. We were feeding a small amount of alfalfa hay
but the vet ordered us to remove all alfalfa products from Flower's diet. We
now feed only grass hay.
4. Too much grain (protein) is not good either. Again, we were feeding a very
small amount of grain, less than one-pound of pelleted 12% product. Now Flower
only gets about 3 ounces in the AM and another 3 ounces in the PM of a
pelleted 10% product. Just enough so that we have something to mix her
supplements in. She just doesn't need the grain, our pasture is fine except
for the selenium deficiency.
5. I do not completely understand the dynamics of this next issue….but it has
to do with the build up of lactic acid in her muscles. Marilyn Horstmeyer of
DeSoto saddles (God Bless Her!) helped me figure this one out. In our case,
the tie-ups were always at the beginning of a conditioning ride….is this the
case with Tiki? I used to always warm Flower up at slow walk for 15 minutes.
I thought I was doing her a favor. Turns out, it's much better if we start out
at a slow trot and throw in a short burst of canter, then slow back down to a
slow trot, throw in a burst of canter, slow down…..keep this up for about 30
minutes. As my feeble brain understands this, the increase in the blood flow
sweeps the lactic acid out of her muscles. Apparently this lactic acid is
already hanging out somewhere in the horse's body….and must be removed….it
doesn't just appear after the horse begins working. But, it's a two-edged
sword. If you just start out cantering, the blood to the muscles won't have
enough oxygen so the lactic acid cannot be swept away, it just continues to
build. The oxygen is key.
6. I didn't think I could afford a heart monitor either. Now that I have one,
I know that I can't afford to be without one. I strongly urge you to find a
way to get that monitor for Tiki. This is the best way to tell how your horse
is doing. Read up on heart monitors. Nancy Loving's book, "Go the Distance,"
is full of very critical information about monitoring. I am trying to follow
her recommendations as much as possible.
7. My friend Frank Farmer helped me figure this next one out. He said to be
sure to ride my horse the night before a conditioning ride or a ride of any
length. He said he always rides his horses "to a sweat" the night before a
race or a conditioning ride because it gets that lactic acid out of their
system. Also, if you trailer your horse any distance he said it's critical to
ride them, or at least lunge them, the night before you compete.
8. Electrolytes are very, very important. Buy some that are made especially
for performance horses. A lot of people on this list use Endura-max. You can
search the Ridecamp archives and find out everything there is to know about
electrolytes-but for sure, you really want to use e-lites that are
manufactured for horses!
So, that's how we solved the tie-up problem. Knock on wood. Now, if I could
just get that sponge-thing down!
Beverly and Flower
Blue Ridge Mts. Of SWVA
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