How to Reduce Your Horse’s Risk of Tying Up This Spring
As you start conditioning your horse this spring, you’ll probably have specific goals in mind. Maybe you’re working to get him ready for the first show of the season, or maybe you’re preparing for an upcoming barrel race. But as you start getting your horse fit, he could be at an increased risk of tying up. Luckily, there are many ways that you can reduce this risk, and they’re all strategies that you can easily incorporate into your routine.
Understand What Causes Tying Up
To prevent tying up, it’s important to understand what causes it. The term “tying up” describes a condition in horses that involves muscle pain and soreness during and after exercise. Fatigue and heat exhaustion often contribute to these episodes, but other causes — like dietary issues and electrolyte imbalances — can also lead to a horse tying up.
Create a Gradual Conditioning Program
If your horse isn’t conditioned for the work that you ask him to do, he could be at risk of tying up. When putting your horse back into work, create a gradual conditioning program and begin with short sessions so that you don’t push your horse to the extremes of his capabilities. If you’re working to get ready for an event, start your conditioning early so that you have plenty of time.
As you progress through the conditioning program, watch your horse to be sure that what you’re asking him to do is appropriate for his fitness level. If he seems unusually tired or sore, back down on your workout intensity and duration and then focus on gradually building workouts back up.
Focus on Diet
Your horse’s diet can play an important role in tying up, and spring is the perfect time to evaluate his health and make any necessary dietary changes. If your horse ties up often, changing him to a lower starch diet with a higher fat content may help. If you’re currently feeding grain, transition your horse to a low-starch formula.
It’s also important to ensure that your horse’s electrolytes are balanced, especially if he’s doing intense work or working in hot weather. You can add electrolytes to feed daily, and can also provide free-choice minerals in your horse’s stall or turnout.
Some highly nervous horses can get worked up in stressful situations, resulting in tying up episodes. You may need to make some management changes for your nervous horse, like increasing his turnout time, stalling him next to a buddy to help keep him calm and finding a conditioning and training program that helps to keep him de-stressed.
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Getting your horse fit doesn’t have to involve riding. These tips can help you condition your horse without getting into the saddle.