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post #1 of 5 Old 04-10-2010, 12:56 PM Thread Starter
Green Broke
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Posts: 4,510
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Education time. PSSM is a genetic disorder seen in Quarter Horse lines (therefore also affecting Paints and Appaloosa's with QH lines) and it stands for Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy. In a very brief summary, basically the horses do not utilize fats and carbs in their muscles properly (to much carbs, not enough fat) and it results in a horse that is chronically "tying-up".

And that about sums up MY knowledge of it. Which is where you guys come in. I'm worried Jynx may have it. I don't even know if she can BE tested for it - they're talking muscle biopsies and our vet population is so woefully lacking when it comes to horses, it's sad (Shay-la was instructed to trailer her horse to another PROVINCE to get x-rays on her bloody hips for crying out loud).

I'm hoping I'm just being paranoid. I worked Jynx most of the winter, and we never seemed to encounter any problems. We did walk, jog, lope, etc. for 10-20 minutes at a time and she would become normally damp from her thick coat, but I didn't notice anything serious. She's always been quite lazy but it's easy to tell the difference now that I've experienced a horse tying-up.

So anyway, last week Jynx tied up. Why is this weird? She does not eat ANY grain. Upon research, many people are quite befuddled by this knowledge as typical tying-up seems to be associated almost exclusively with to much grain (whereas PSSM is often noticed by the fact that the horses don't eat grain and are still tying up). She gets a free choice alfalfa mix, and we have mineral blocks in the pasture.

I took her for a ride for the first time in about 4 weeks and after about 10 minutes of light work (a bit of jogging, two loping circles), I experienced my first "tying-up". She was absolutely drenched in sweat, puffing like the devil, and having difficulty walking. I am stupid and have never experienced tying-up, so I spent the entire ride home going "What the heck is wrong with my horse?!" I thought she was being lazy, and in retrospect I feel like an ass for making her walk home with me on her.

It wasn't "severe" as I have read. She had difficulty walking normally, and was very stiff and slow but able to move. At first I thought she was colicking because she wouldn't eat the beet pulp I offered her and she's a PIG. I checked on her several hours later, and she was back to her old self.

Should I be worried? I have started her on an electrolyte supplement as I feel this could be a basic mineral imbalance. I took her for the exact same type ride this week, and she was 100% fine. She was barely even damp and we probably worked harder (she was being silly, so I lunged her in the field and she decided she'd rather canter wildly in circles for many minutes).

If this was PSSM, would I be experiencing this constantly? In the six months I've been working and riding her, often times very hard in the round pen, I have NEVER experienced this. I am only concerned because she is primarily QH bloodlines, and she does not eat grain, so the typical issues of tying-up are not present here. She also gets a mineral block, but it is entirely possible she does not use it and is causing a mineral imbalance.

Any advice would be great. I just don't want to be doing damage to my horse if she needs to be put on a proper nutritional plan due to having PSSM.

I hope God tells her to smash her computer with a sledgehammer.

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post #2 of 5 Old 04-10-2010, 01:19 PM
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: wisconsin
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i would not say that grain is a must for a horse who has tied up [although you do want to change the diet of a horse who does or has tied up]. seeing as it was her first ride in 4 weeks, i would suspect that that is the cause of the tying up- ie irregular exercise.

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post #3 of 5 Old 04-10-2010, 04:44 PM
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Australia
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Tying up has many, many causes or triggers.

Wildey tied up once in eight years - bad enough he couldn't walk. Our vet believed it was a selenium deficiency.

Bundy had chronic tying up issues - never enough to really notice, but he was always sore over the kidneys and it restricted his gaits. With him, I took him of all grain and sugar products and only feed meadow hay or soaked lucerne.

Buddy tied up not long ago due to being unfit, on a long ride, combined with the weather.

Its spring there, yes? She may have tied up simply due to the amount of sugars in the new grass.
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post #4 of 5 Old 04-10-2010, 07:36 PM
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Higgins, TX. YeeHaw!!
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Agreed, tying up can happen for any number of reasons. Dobe has tied up 3 different times in the 5 years I have been riding him. Each time I believe it was due to too much excercise after being off work for too long. Like he would be turned out on good feed for a month and then I would pull him up to go work cattle, we would have to run some and he would tie up. I wouldn't be terribly concerned over 1 episode. However, if it starts to be a common thing like every few weeks or during every strenuous ride, then I would consult a vet.

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post #5 of 5 Old 04-12-2010, 11:43 AM
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Location: East Texas
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As mentioned, tying up can have several different causes. You need to look at the overall picture to help you and your vet determine which cause is more likely and help direct possible testing. When does it occur, what is common about the times that it occurs. Write out a complete list of feeds and supplements in the diet. And try to have blood drawn within 12 hours of an attack so that you can be sure that it really is tying up rather than something else.

You can find tons of information on PSSM/EPSM through The Horse | Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy (PSSM)

You can find information on diets etc through Dr. Beth Valentine's pages:
Beth Valentine's EPSM (PSSM, EPSSM) Diets
Rural Heritage Vet Clinic - EPSM in Draft Horses
Beth Valentine's Recommended EPSM Diets

Cindy D.
Licensed Veterinary Technician
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