Updated: Mar 13
The more popular name of the condition is 'Monday Morning Disease.' Most commonly it occurs when the horse is left in the stall for one or two days in a row, fed as heavily as before, and then taken out and exercised normally. The result is an animal which suddenly becomes very stiff after exercise and in more extreme cases becomes stiff and actually stops in the middle of exercise. At this time the exact cause of the condition is well documented, but it is too steeped in physiology to concern us here. There are a few important points to consider however.
To individuals who have never seen a ty-up before, the condition will appear to be an extreme form of lameness. In actual fact the problem is more physiological in nature rather than orthopedic. The horse will appear to be stiff all over, with his hind limbs predominating, They will also have trouble urinating and in the more extreme cases, when urine does flow, it will be brown in color. Remember that an acute lameness will tend to occur in one limb only while a ty-up is present everywhere.
Usually the only other thing that ty-up is confused with is colic, but animals will show general discomfort. As well both may be sweating rather drastically. A colic horse however will usually indicate that the problem is in the gut rather than the muscle. Most colicy horses will kick at their belly or thrush and roll around violently in the stall. A horse which is tied up will stand there like a statue; not even attempting to move. He will even resist you when you attempt to move him around. The slightest movement to him means pain.
The first thing to so with a tied up horse is to give a small amount of 'Furosemide' (Lasix). The muscle damage is bad enough, but it is the damage occurring in the kidney which can kill the horse. In ty-up the muscle suddenly dies. When this happens a toxic substance is released into the bloodstream. This substance called 'myoglobin' is removed from the body in the urine. When the myoglobin comes in contact with the kidney, the kidney closes up. It does this because the myoglobin will actually kill the kidney cells. A tied-up horse is therefore presented as an animal which is not only stiff, but as well refuses to urinate. The longer it takes the animal to urinate, the more time is allowed for various toxic substances to build up in the blood. Eventually these toxic substances will kill the the horse.
The Lasix will cause the animal to urinate quickly. It does this by opening up the kidney canals and allowing a great amount of fluid to pass through them. The fluid, now called urine, will wash out the myoglobin and other toxic substances with it. During a ty-up, the more brown the urine, the more muscle damage has occurred. The myoglobin gives the urine the brownish color.
Horses which stop in the middle of exercise and refuse to move are very severely afflicted. Every movement means more muscle destruction. The more muscle destruction present, the greater is the likelihood of the animal dying. Leave the animal there and call the veterinarian.
Once the urine has returned to a normal color, the condition for all intents and purposes is over. All the muscle damage that has occurred is over and done with. The horse should now be given Vitamin E and Selenium. This vitamin and mineral will help to prevent any further episodes of the condition. If you did leave your horse over the weekend and then decided to give him a full amount of exercise then learn by the experience. Next time cut down the grain considerably in the amount of grain to the animal when he's just lying around the stall and doing nothing. It was this excess amount of readily available energy in the muscle cells, which triggered the ty-up in the first place.
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