News & Guides

20th October 2021 by Rowen Barbary

Rhabdomyolysis / Tying-up in Horses

Rhabdomyolysis / Tying-up in Horses

Tying up is an extremely painful experience where the muscles are unable to function due to severe muscle contractions. This condition is also known as Rhabdomyolysis. It can be caused by strenuous exercise of an unfit horse, dietary imbalances and even long periods of stress due to environment. Rhabdomyolysis can be categorised on the severity of the episode and the cause of onset.

Symptoms to recognise tying up in horses can be slight cramping up to severe cramping when the horse will ‘tuck-up’ in the abdominal area and may be reluctant to move. Muscles around the hind become hard and excessive sweating and shallow breathing can occur. In more severe cases, the horses urine the myoglobin is broken down causing urine to become dark brown or red, consult a vet immediately.

There are a variety of factors to consider such as management techniques and training methods however diet is key in the management of horses prone to tying-up to help prevent further episodes, or other symptoms of muscle myopathies. A balanced diet is essential for overall health and vitality by reducing the likelihood of imbalances or deficiencies. For horses working hard and for optimal muscle function it is important the horse remains hydrated and electrolytes such as Sodium, Potassium and calcium are restored.

Where possible fibre sources, such as grass, good quality hay or haylage should be fed ad-lib to help make up majority of the diet.  Horses that need more than fibre alone to help meet the demands of work and to maintain condition can be fed a cereal free concentrate feed, ideally keeping the level of starch and sugar in the diet below 12%.  An alternative energy source from starch is Oil.

Rowen Barbary Solution Mash is specifically designed for horses needing a specialist diet and can be fed as the sole concentrate feed.  This can be fed to horses of all ages and activity levels where a high fibre, cereal free diet is required and as it contains just 1% sugar and 4.5% starch it is ideal to use on horses that are prone to tying-up to help minimise the risk of further episodes. Containing high levels of essential oils it helps provide an excellent source of slow release energy for improved stamina whilst helping horses to achieve the required body condition.  Super high levels of Vitamin E are also included helping support the immune system and maintain healthy antioxidant levels as well as additional Lysine and Methionine for optimal protein balance.

Alternatively, for horses with a limited appetite that needs a calorie dense feed the supplement Rowen Barbary Sumo Original can be added into the diet.  Containing 50% vegetable oil alongside the necessary nutrients, specifically antioxidants, Sumo Original is the ideal high oil supplement to use to help promote excellent overall condition.

If your horse is suspected to be experiencing a form of tying-up it is important to seek veterinary care to receive the correct diagnosis, treatment and management plan. Once a diagnosis of the form of Tying-up a nutritionist can provide advice on the most suitable diet.


Eleanor Blinkhorn (Bsc) | Equine Nutritionist

About Rowen Barbary

All manufacturing at Rowen Barbary is carried out in a state of the art mill located in the heart of the Shropshire countryside. We use only the highest quality ingredients sourced, where possible, from local farms before they are blended by our dedicated team in our UFAS audited mill.

Rowen Barbary also conforms to BETA NOPS guidelines with raw materials & finished feeds regularly laboratory tested to ensure that every bag of feed continues to meet not only ours, but also your high standards.

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