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Discussion on Azoturia or "tieing up'??

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Stephanie Dickinson
Posted on Monday, Jan 17, 2000 - 6:55 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi All:

I'm about to take on a 'rescue' (why am I doing this again?!) who has tied up once recently due to a lot of feed and not enough exercise.

I know it can re-occur once it happens...anyone have any info/resources that talk more about this (why it happens, how to prevent, etc)??
Thanks...please e-mail to:
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Helen Weedon
Posted on Tuesday, Jan 18, 2000 - 6:10 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Stephanie - these rescue horses must be out there waiting for you to come and find them!
Azoturia and tieing-up are the same thing and as you've rightly said it is almost always caused by stuffing a horse full of food it cannot then burn off by exercise. The old name for it here in the UK was Monday Morning Disease as when heavy horses were used on farms etc they would all suffer after their day of rest (Sunday). Almost all horses are overfed and underworked - they are best off with as much hay as they can manage and a good all-round vitamin supplement. If I gave my horse the recommended weight of food for her height/weight/workload etc she would kill me!! Azoturia seems to be more common in mares, there may be a hormonal link there. A supplement of selenium and vitamin E has been shown to be beneficial in cases that keep reoccurring despite everyones best efforts. Treat it very seriously, it can do alot of muscular damage. If you are riding and your horse suffers an attack, keep the hindquarters as warm as possible, put your coat over them, call the vet and don't attempt to make the horse walk as this can massively increase the damage. You may need to be trailored home if you are out and about. Prevention is definitely better than cure!
Please tell us more about this rescue case, what is the story behind it?
Good luck
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Posted on Tuesday, Jan 18, 2000 - 10:48 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Check Out: Diseases: Lameness: Muscle: Tying Up
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A.F.M. Hyde-Clarke
Posted on Tuesday, Jan 18, 2000 - 1:38 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hello Stephanie,
Why are you taking on a rescue case again? Because if you are susceptible once, you are always susceptible - like me!!

As Helen so rightly says – Monday Morning disease – occurring in horses on highly nutritious diets; onset follows exercise - especially after period of rest, as at weekends. Cause : thought to be rapid use of glycogen laid down by liver during idleness. When horse works, production of lactic acid exceeds removal and destroys muscle fibres. Symptoms develop several hours, or immediately after exercise. Most horses recover in a matter of hours if rested, but some lie down, cannot get up and die. It is far more serious than most people realise. The kidneys can be irrevocably damaged.

If a horse usually works, then is at rest through sickness/or owner sickness/or owner vacation/or whatever, the horse’s food should be reduced dramatically. As Helen also says, and Dr. O says under Nutrition, people feed their horses far too much concentrates. If a horse basically eats only hay, and is out grazing, and has a touch of concentrate if he is a big horse and needs a bit extra, it is unlikely that he will ever get azoturia/tying-up/setfast/paralytic myoglobinuria [lots of names for this!!].

Treatment is to rest the horse with the necessary anti-inflammatory drugs and pain relievers etc from the vet until he is totally recovered – and only blood tests will show this. His grain ration must be reduced to the barest minimum. When he is recovered, he will need gentle regular exercise for ever.

My first thoroughbred of 10 years old got azoturia just before I brought him home. I had moved him to a holding yard across the road as I had given notice to his excellent livery yard where he had been for 3 years since finishing racing, but my stables were not ready. So he had to wait across the road, much to our joint displeasure, while the stable was finished. The holding yard, not professionals, thought I was starving him, and doubled his concentrates without telling me. Hey presto, instant azoturia after our next dressage lesson. He was a sprinter, so broad and very muscular and actually very fit, but he could never take much concentrate.
Fortunately, we realised immediately what had happened and the vet was there within 20 minutes so he had instant treatment – but it was very frightening and I have been very anti-concentrates ever since then. He never had it again, because even when he was totally recovered and fit enough to hunt, he never had more than 2 kg a day over 3 meals. As he got older and we did less, I reduced his concentrate until he had only 750g a day when retired. I do find that my TB’s have always needed a little bit of concentrate to keep optimum condition, but really the minimum I can feed.

I think you should have his kidneys checked, so you know what you are dealing with, but if you are very careful with his food and his exercise routine, he should be fine.

Lots of luck,
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Emily French
Posted on Tuesday, Jan 18, 2000 - 4:44 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

The most current research links the symptom of Tying up to EPSM, Equine Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy. Treatment consists of reduceing the amount of soluble carbohydrates in the diet by replaceing them with fats. The goal of the diet therapy is to provide 25% of the daily calories a day from pure fat like vegitable oil.

The link to the grain issue is that grain is VERY high in Carbs and horses with EPSM have a (suspected) breakdown somewhere in the glycogenic pathways. They can't use the carbs in the muscles so it creates a HUGE mess.

I have 2 horses with EPSM and both have seen a 90% turn around on the diet therapy. But realize that it takes months before you even start to see an improvement and if they respond then they have to have the diet the rest of their lives.

I would be happy to send you the information and sources that I have gathered over the last 8 months if your interested, let me know.

You can, in a lot of cases have a useable horse when your done but they do have special needs. You can also get further info specific to the current research being done at look under the Vet Clenic

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Posted on Friday, May 5, 2000 - 3:14 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I'm wondering if it's possible that my horse may
have been tieing up last night. About 15 minutes
after my barrel run, he started pulling on the bit
and stretching his neck out. I got off and then
he acted like he was going down on his rear end,
wanted to lie down and was real lethargic. I got
a bucket of water and gave him a sip, unsaddled
and blanketed him. He totally ignored green grass
where he was standing. He was quivering a little
in the flanks and he seemed to drag his back toes.
After a little while and another sip of water, he
started coming back to life. I watched him for
about 30 minutes longer before trailoring him home
and checked him all night. He has recently added
a grain mixture to his diet (barley, corn,oats
moloasses) with a little apple cider vinegar and
vegetable oil in it. He eats alfalfa in the
morning and wheat hay at night. I would
appreciate y
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Posted on Saturday, May 6, 2000 - 7:20 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hello Shada,
It could be either tying up, colic, or even possibly a HYPP episode if your horse has the gene. We have articles on all these with the HYPP and Tying Up articles in the Diseases: Lameness: Muscle sections. But the first thing you need is a diagnosis. Next time it happens have the vet take a look and if he is uncertain from the clinical signs blood work for muscle enzymes will help.
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Emily French
Posted on Saturday, May 6, 2000 - 2:23 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Shada, let me guess.... you either have an
appendix reg QH or a QH with a lot of TB in his

I would get him off grain products if it were me.
I would allso go check out some of the sample
diets listed on look in the
Vet Clenic. There is lots of great info on EPSM
there by Dr Valentine, you can also ask her
questions as well.

I am not a vet but what you describe sounds very
suspicious to me. It sounds like he had a very
mild tying up episode, don't push your luck!

Also, excellent observation, too many people would
have ignored what was happening and then would be
surprised when the horse goes down from a nasty
episode. Kudos to you...
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Posted on Saturday, May 6, 2000 - 7:10 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I agree with Emily...I have a QH who is prone to tying up and I have him off all but a handful of Purina Strategy (so he doesn't feel left out at feed time). He has done very well on this- since I have taken him off the grain he hasn't tied up. I supplement his diet with oil, and he gets timothy hay with some alfalfa/timothy cubes(which help to absorb the oil and Vit E/SE supplement my vet put him on). The oil gives him sufficent energy to be a competitive jumper.If he's a QH i'd have him tested for HYPP, we did and thankfully he was neg....we also make sure that there are no sudden changes in diet(new pasture)and exercise...he gets only one day off, and even then we walk around for 20 min or so...I'm really happy with the new plan, it has worked at well and isn't a hassle at all. Good Luck!
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Posted on Tuesday, May 30, 2000 - 12:04 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hello -please excuse the lateness of the reply due
to computer problem. He's a paint with a lot of
quarter, but some thoroughbred in his background.
He has very thin skin and is a very sensitive
horse. I believe it must have been a mild case of
tying up because I put him on Mega-Sel (vitamin E
and selenium) and took away the oat hay and grain
except for a handful a couple times a week and he
is like a changed horse. He is moving so much
freely and actually is calmer. I guess his
episode was a blessing in disguise. Thanks very
much to all of you for your
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Emily French
Posted on Tuesday, May 30, 2000 - 10:28 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Shada, if he seems to need more weight you can
introduce oil mixed with Alfalfa pellets or
Stratigy. That will add the calories and avoid the
high carb grain.
Good luck
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Posted on Thursday, Jun 1, 2000 - 10:29 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Emily,
Thanks for the suggestion. He keeps his weight up
pretty good, but I think I will add oil. I would
like to give him apple cider vinegar to help keep
the flies off him (due to his fly allergy). Do
you know if it has any negative effects for a
horse with a "tying up" problem?
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Emily French
Posted on Wednesday, Jun 7, 2000 - 3:05 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I have not heard of that affecting the tying up. I
have been useing garlic which seems to be taking
the edge off her allergy, as well my mare gets
picky about the oily feed will devour it if it has
the garlic in it, go figure.

Hope all works well.
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