Experiencing Tying Up

Hi Form Equine Stretch Header - Matthew Seed Photography

So we all kind of know about this and fortunately many of us never have to experience it. I thought that my horse was immune to it, how wrong was I. 


Why did I think my horse would never get it? Easy, simply because my horse is fed on only natural feed and receives electrolytes daily in Oxydane with balanced Vitamin E and Selenium in addition to the vitamins, minerals and amino acids required plus additional electrolytes in the form of ElectroPlus after strenuous exercise, before and after I take him eventing or when it is really hot. 

Not to put too finer point on it, our horses body’s don’t tell them when they are dehydrated, that is a big difference between us and them. They also lose an awful lot of salt in their sweat –  around 50% – for us it is comparatively low.  Hence the reason why electrolytes are so important but is very often over looked.  

I am meticulous about it, fully aware of the perils having seen racehorses go through it, it is horrifying to watch. Once you see it, you never forget it, it is ingrained in your memory. 


I have an Eventer and he is fit as a flea.


I was having a dressage lesson, it was hardly strenuous. We warmed up, practised all of the movements and components for a test for the weekend. Then ran through the test a couple of times. He was not sweating. We were happy with the work and decided to stop, well it was 7.20 and nearly dark. 

Asking my horse to move off to do my cool down. He was routed to the spot. I finally got him to move forward and it felt like he was on tip toes, extremely short and then the hind legs went too. Something was very, very wrong. Jumping off and loosening his girth, we tried to get him to walk forward, gradually we were able to move him from the school to his stable, fortunately only 100 metres but it felt like 100 miles. My poor boy. 

I managed to video some of the trip to the stable and WhatsApp’d it straight to my vet for him to see. Thank god for modern technology. We were sure it was tying up but we wanted confirmation. Back came the reply, yes indeed it was. 




Fortunately, my feed room has everything. I quickly made up a feed with EquiG (Hi Form’s buteless bute), ProflamAId and ElectroPlus and held his bucket while he happily ate away. Satisfied, I had everything in to him that I could, I turned my attention to his physical problem. 

He was boiling hot, so we sponged him down and put a cooler on. His muscles were like concrete, especially shoulders, back and hamstrings. I called my amazing rehab lady who said she was on her way. The one thing I love about this horse world is that when you are really in trouble, people put aside their own lives to help a horse in distress. 

Stretch was loosened off as best we could, the heat had subsided and he looked far more comfortable than he had been an hour before. I changed his rug and felt able to return to the house. It was a long night. I don’t know if you are like me but when your baby is ill, you can’t rest. I am very lucky to have him only yards from my front door and I have to admit to excessive checking, about 3am I decided he was safe and packed myself to bed. 

So how had this happened? He was out galloping 2 days before and was absolutely fine. As horse owners we can pretty much deal with anything as long as we know why. Normally it is a Vitamin E/Selenium problem or a lack of electrolytes, and very often a potassium deficiency had I not replenished enough? Was this my fault?


Next morning, the boy was looking much more normal but still not right. Bloods were taken and he went out into his field to chill, although still not walking out as he normally does.

By the afternoon, my vet called with the results. A virus. Relief, is all I can describe how I felt. Not me, not my fault. A virus we can deal with.

You never want to experience tying up, it is horrendous to watch. 

Please take note and make sure that your horse has the correct vitamins and minerals in his/her system and that those electrolytes are going in. Most people forget and whilst I didn’t, it is the most common cause and is for the most part avoidable.  


Recommendations provided are not provided to replace veterinary advice, if you are still concerned about your horse please contact your vet.

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