I heard from a client that her trainer has all horses competing at Preliminary and above (eventing) tested for blood enzyme levels at the start of show season. I was so impressed to hear that such comprehensive care is being given to the horses at her barn. I think it is a great idea to monitor your horses blood when he is in an intensive conditioning program. Two important muscle enzymes can be tested for. By studying these enzymes, veterinarians are basically trying to assess whether or not the horse has tied up, or if the horse has early signs of tying up.Other factors which can contribute to tying-up include vitamin E and selenium deficiency, and electrolyte imbalance. A horse with any of these imbalances is more prone to injury and cramping, as muscles cannot perform efficiently, thus leading to overloading of the tendons.
Muscles that have worked very hard will often develop some inflammation. This is a normal process that helps new muscle fibers form. It is important that the inflammation is kept to a light degree, as intense inflammation will form scar tissue. After the show, use cold hosing, ice boots, deep massage, and cold laser. All will promote blood circulation which will bring healing oxygen to muscle fibers. A brisk rub with liniment (see side bar for Chapman’s, a homeopathic liniment that I like) will also stimulate circulation. Transfer Factor and supplements such as Vitamin C, E, and Selenium are also essential for keeping inflammation from free radicals under control.
Now that the show season is getting started, all of us need to be on high alert for a syndrome that can occur when horses go back to work: Exertional Rhabdomyolisis, or tying up. There are complex causes for tying up: nutrition, stress, chemical imbalance, overwork, etc. I will not address those issues apart from mentioning that a deficiency in selenium, Vitamin C, salt, and Vitamin E have been known to bring about an attack of the syndrome.
However,there are two stress points associated with tying up that I can work on offering relief from the extreme pain and immobility in about 5 minutes. The stress point affecting the hind legs is connected to the external oblique muscle, and the stress point affecting the front legs is connected to the posterior pectoral. When tying up, these muscles (and there can be others) contract and do not release. Using Stress Point Therapy and Myofascial release to bring back circulation will relieve pain, restore movement, and avoid permanent damage to the muscles.