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Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance

April 29, 2011

Something went down tonight, not sure yet what.

Today was the first time the sun was out and I was home at the same time to do any riding.  My daughter recently got a horse so we thought we'd go do some slogging on the trails.  Phebes had a good mile or so warm up before we got to the hills which we always canter.  They are small steep hills, but the duration is only a hundred-two hundred feet before they level again.  We cantered up one little steep hill, then leveled out, went down a little hill, saw there was a wash out, reversed and cantered up that hill and on up to the top the opposite direction.  Then walked down a rather steep, long and muddy hill really slow to the bottom only to find the creek was too flooded to cross, which meant we had to head back up the hill (slowly).  Suddenly Phebes didn't want to move, and I looked back and her hind muscles were quivering on both sides really bad, and she as breathing much harder than she should have been given we were only a mile and half out.  I told my daughter I thought something was wrong, and decided to get her back home as we were in the middle of the woods.  Like to never got her home, she didn't want to walk.  So I'm thinking tie up again.  I hand walked her the rest of the way home, and took a short cut through our woods.  When I got home it looked like she had a muscle spasming near her right stifle.  I put her in her stall for awhile and rubbed at her hind muscles.  She seemed kind of tight.  She stuffed her face full of hay for awhile, and acted like she wanted to take a nap.  Her muscles pretty soon look nice and loose again.   I took her out of her stall and asked Doug to watch while I did a short trot out to see if she was off anywhere, or if she refused to go, or had muscle quivering.  Nothing.    No gait abnormality.  No unwillingness to trot.  No twitching muscles.  What?  WHAT?  I'm just beside myself.  Can a tie up act that way?  Or could she just have had a muscle cramp?  I checked her pulse as soon as I got her home and it was 59 bpm and I only think it was that high because of the 4-wheeler going down the road.  She is out in the yard right now stuffing her face with grass, and when she moves everything looks nice and jiggly, but she was obviously in some distress out there today.  I've never had a horse get a muscle cramp before so I have nothing to go on, and my experience with the tie-up was not at all by the book, even the vets missed it initially.  Her eye is relaxed, she isn't sweating, she drank from her water tank, and is stuffing her little face.  This really scared the crap out of me.  I'm just not sure "what" happened.


  1. My mare I was doing LD with in high school did the same thing. I gave her time off after top 10ing the LD, then went out for a mellow ride with friends and out in the middle of the woods, after walking down a hill, her hind muscles were quivering and she seemed very uncomfortable suddenly. I hand walked her back to the trailer, at least a couple of miles, then walked her at home some, had the vet out, and she just got over it. The general thought was a low grade tie up. The vet wasn't concerned once she was eating regularly (and pooping) again back at sounds like something similar happened to your mare?

  2. This is why I don't like down time during ride season. The trails have been so bad (13 inches of rain) that I didn't want to risk a tendon injury by riding in the muck every day, so I was just trying to wait out the weather. I'm not sure what to think about her, if I should just go back to some really slow work, or what. This evening you can't tell anything happened, she's stuffing soybean hulls and timothy hay...

  3. Very very scary. You know that I am not a vet and I don't have any direct experience with tying up, but I'd bet that's what it was. Everything I've read indicates it can be incredibly minor, just like what you experienced today.

    I'm not blaming the soybean hulls, in any way, but I want to point out that you did change her feed as well as her exercise regime. Just keep it in mind in the future?

  4. I'm thinking that is what it was too. I laid awake a long time last night. The soybean hulls are fiber so they shouldn't have contributed in any way, grains will, fiber is the recommended feed, but the down time...definitely. Most of the night my thoughts ran on the "what if" I'm fifteen miles out and she ties up, how would I get her home before damaging her muscles. I'm really fearful that Phebes can't do this thing I love so much, and then...I LOVE this little mare. I've put so much of myself into her. Almost seven years of training her to get what I want, she floats down the trail beautifully now, and we are so close to everything I wanted from my horse/person experience. So many have told me "just sell her" then I think of the horse on my Mom's road that died last week from starvation while he had a sea of grass all around him that he couldn't reach. I can't afford to own a second horse in this economy.

    Then on the other hand we had last year without any issues at all. I just don't know. I'm just heart sick. ~E.G.

  5. Have blood work done, that will tell you if something is out of balance. I would be Leary of the soybean hulls too. As my Vet is fond of saying about any of the "new" fibers; "Yes they always ate that in the wild!" :-)

  6. :( I read all the entries after this one too... I know you'll do whats right for her, but I hope you find the golden ticket to her!