RER, PSSM, Azoturia, Monday Morning disease, Set-fast…
So what exactly is tying up in horses? These muscle problems have previously had a variety of different names which have described the symptoms rather than the disease. However, advances in research have resulted in a better understanding of the disorders and more appropriate names have been introduced. Two distinct disease processes have been identified. Each one seeming to be prevalent in certain breeds, suggesting that a genetic factor is likely to be involved. Furthermore, it might be worth checking what you’re feeding…
Trigger Factors for Tying Up in Horses
One of the questions that frustrates owners of horses that suffer with tying up is why does it happen one day and not the next? Often, there’s no obvious reason why the problem occurred on any given day. However in some cases it can be that a number of trigger factors all coincided sufficiently to tip the balance. Possible trigger factors include
- not reducing the feed prior to a day off,
- not warming-up or cooling down properly,
- high starch diets,
- viral infections.
On their own, the horse can often tolerate one or other of these factors but when several combine, problems can occur.
Symptoms of Tying Up in Horses
The degree of severity of the symptoms of tying up in horses can vary enormously. A horse may appear slightly stiff but is still able to work to some degree. Alternatively, it could be a complete seizing of the muscles so that the horse can’t move. If the symptoms are only very slight then it’s very difficult to diagnose the problem as there could be several other causes. When seeking advice from a vet or nutritionist it’s very important you give details of when the problem occurred. For example, was it before, during or after the horse had worked? You will also need to provide details about the horse’s regime that day to enable them to advise you on a suitable diet.
DIET SUGGESTIONS FOR TYING UP IN HORSES
POLYSACCHARIDE STORAGE MYOPATHY (PSSM)
- Quarter horses, Warmbloods and draught horses are most commonly affected
- Typically, quiet laid back animals but with no gender bias
- Prevents normal metabolism of glycogen which is how the horse stores starch and sugars in his muscles
- Eliminate cereal grains and molasses from the diet
- Use oil and fibre as energy sources according to the horse’s bodyweight and workload
- Provide a balance of vitamins, minerals and protein
How to achieve this:
Step 1 – Feed plenty of forage – Forage should form the basis of all horse’s diets but is particularly important in horses that can’t tolerate large amounts of grain. Select as good a forage as possible as this will provide more energy and nutrients which will help to meet the horses overall requirements.
Step 2 – Select a balancer – Fibregenix Lami Low-Cal for horses in light to moderate work or Fibregenix Platinum Pro for horses and ponies in moderate to hard work. These will provide the nutrients required to maintain health and condition and for work.
Step 3 – Add oil or highly digestible fibre – A high oil supplement can be fed alongside a balancer and provides a concentrated source of slow release calories. Sources of highly digestible fibre, eg beet pulp, are also useful.
(RECURRENT) EXERTIONAL RHABDOMYOLYSIS (RER/ERS)
- Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds most commonly affected
- Excitable, highly strung increases risk, with fillies more prone
- A stress-related disorder involving a disruption of normal muscle calcium regulation
- Reduce the starch content of the diet
- Ensure that any cereals in the diet have been cooked
- Ensure the diet is balanced
How to achieve this:
Step 1 – Choose a feed with as low a starch content as possible – Feeds which contain high levels of digestible fibre and oil, as energy sources. These will be lower in starch than those which are primarily cereal-based. Generally, pellets/cubes will also have a lower starch content than a mix with an equivalent Digestible Energy content.
Step 2 – Check that the feed used is appropriate for the type and level of work the horse is doing and fed at recommended levels to ensure a fully balanced diet – Feeds are formulated to be fed at certain levels. However, using the wrong one or feeding less than recommended can mean that the horse isn’t receiving sufficient nutrients. Unfortunately, increasing the feed can result in over-exuberant behaviour or weight gain. Therefore a good alternative is to add a Fibregenix balancer to provide nutrients without energy.
Step 3 – Add an electrolyte supplement – ERS is most common in horses in hard, fast work and so an electrolyte supplement is vital to replace salts lost in sweat.
Management Tips for Tying Up in Horses
- Warm up and cool down the horse thoroughly
- Do not confine the horse to the stable for long periods
- An episode of ERS often seems to occur after the horse has suffered with a virus. If you suspect your horse has a virus then reduce the workload, particularly if the horse has had RER/ERS before.
Electrolytes are minerals that, when in solution, dissociate and have electrical charges. The concentrations of electrolytes affect the movement of body fluids between cells. Most of the sodium, chloride and much of the water, lost in sweat comes from the extracellular fluid. This fluid consists of the plasma portion of blood and the interstitial fluid which surrounds the cells in the body. Most of the potassium and some of the water comes from the intracellular fluid (water inside the cells).
The most effective way to re-hydrate a horse is to supply water and electrolytes. This is more effective than either on their own. Ideally, electrolytes should therefore be added to the water. However, if this puts the horse off drinking, add them to the feed but make it wet and slushy.
Take home message:
Follow appropriate management procedures and nutrition for tying up in horses. This will help reduce the likelihood or frequency of episodes even for those with an underlying genetic susceptibility.
YOUR HORSE’S IMMUNE SYSTEM
Okay folks, let’s discuss immunity and your horse’s immune system.
We’re all currently living in troubling times. Now, although your horse won’t catch the human Coronavirus, we should always consider the state of his immune system. After all, without an efficiently working immune system your horse will be exposed to all manner of health issues. So, in this blog we’ll look at what the Immune system is and how you can optomise it.
Your Horse’s Immune System – What is it?
An immune response is simply the ability to mount an effective defence against malignancies and invading micro-organisms by producing immunoglobulins (antibodies).
According to Ian Tizard, PhD, BSc, BVMS, MRCVS, who authored the book, Veterinary Immunology, An Introduction, the basic requirements of an immune system include four components:
- A method of trapping and processing antigens
- A mechanism for reacting specifically to the specific antigen (becoming antigen-sensitive)
- Cells to produce antibodies or to participate in the cell-mediated immune response
- Cells to retain memory of the event and to react specifically to the antigen in future encounters
When Boosting Your Horse’s Immune System Matters
Just like us, your horse’s immune system becomes less competent with age. Also, weanlings, young horses, stress, and poor condition can also negatively impact the immune system. This in turn makes them more vulnerable to disease and infections.
Significantly, supporting the immune system is vital to those with specific health issues or equine athletes whose bodies are constantly put under stress from competition or travelling. Even weather changes can also stress your horse’s immune system, so you want to be especially careful of management strategies during these time
Gut Health to Boost Your Horse’s Immune System
Considering that 70% of your horse’s immune system is in his GI tract, the immune system itself is directly affected by the health of the digestive system. Several other organs such as the thymus gland and the bone marrow, are the sites where white blood cells are produced. Others, including the spleen, lymph nodes, and liver, trap microorganisms and foreign substances and provide a place for immune system cells to collect, interact with each other and with foreign substances, and generate an immune response.
The nutrients most associated in immune health are antioxidants, micro and macro minerals, omega 3 and 6 fatty acids (particularly Omega 3) and glutamine. However, there must be an overall balance of all nutrients when it comes to good immune health.
Vitamin E, vitamin C, selenium and beta-carotene – the precursor to vitamin A all have a positive effect on the immune system.
Macro And Micro Minerals
Micro-minerals include such elements as zinc, copper, cobalt, and manganese. While macro-minerals include calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium.
Omega 3 And 6 Fatty Acids
Studies show that both fatty acids, more so Omega 3, play a role in the immune function of clinically normal horses.
Glutamine is an amino acid. The immune system needs to receive an adequate supply of L-glutamine to protect against illness and potential tissue damage. L-glutamine deficits can result in:
- atrophy of intestinal villi
- mucosal ulceration in the stomach and colon
- increased intestinal permeability
- digestive complications
- poor nutrient absorption
Gut Support for Your Horse’s Immune System.
A combination of both MOS & FOS prebiotics is a powerful tool when it comes to supporting your horse’s immune health.
MOS (mannanoligosaccharide) contains high levels of beta-glucans. These are shown to support a healthy immune system and may increase its reaction capacity. MOS itself enhances immunoglobulin production during gestation. This improves the quality of the colostrum and the transfer of immunity from the mare to foal at birth.
Short-chain FOS (fructooligosaccharides) are selectively fermented by some bacteria in the intestinal microbiota. By providing beneficial bacteria with a good source of food they can strengthen the immune system.
Nucleotides are the building blocks of RNA and DNA molecules in the horse’s body. Research has shown that all horses and ponies can benefit from the inclusion of additional nucleotides in their diet. However, performance horses or those with health issues have the greatest requirement.
The cell regeneration process is accelerated with Nucleotides. Cell regeneration allows an animal to recover much quicker from the type of stress it is under (performance, illness, disease, injury, etc.).
Most pertinently to immune health, Nucleotides also assist with the activation and proliferation of lymphocytes. They help these white blood cells perform their primary function. ie. produce antibodies to attack invading pathogens and destroy cells already invaded by microbes. Keeping these cells functioning properly ensures that the horse’s immune system is actively warding off potential threats.
So How Do Fibregenix Balancer Supplements Help Boost Your Horse’s Immunity?
Fibregenix contains immune-boosting nutrients, all in a highly bioavailable form. Bioavailability is really important, because it’s a measure of how well an ingredient is absorbed and utilised by the horse.
Alongside the all-important key antioxidants, (Vitamins A, C, E and selenium) there’s a full range of chelated trace minerals. Digestible protein supplying all the required amino acids has also been added to the formulation. Another highly important component of Fibregenix is the gut health supplements. These consist of Purified Nucleotides and MOS & FOS prebiotics. All this means that a Fibregenix balancer supplement will provide your horse with everything needed for a healthy immune system.
Whether your horse is a seasoned performer, a veteran, a youngster or just in need of boosted immune support, Fibregenix is instrumental in taking your horse’s immune health to another level. In fact, many of our customers have noticed how quickly their horses recover from illness or even avoid illnesses or viral issues where other horses in the same yard are struggling.
So don’t take any chances with your horse’s health. Just let Fibregenix do the hard yards for you.