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

May 10, 2011

The Endurance Horse: Rest Days?

The past few days I've been delving into the "why it happened" sort of thing, and the how to make it "not" happen line of thinking.  So if rest got her into this mess, and one of the recommendations of a training protocol is rest, then what the heck?  So I dug out my beloved old book by Tom Ivers to see what he had to say about a horse that ties-up, and specifically rest.  Interesting that in the racehorse world a day of rest does not mean what we biped  newbie types might think.  It is actually ACTIVE REST that is recommended for a horse with a proclivity for tie-up.  So coming off of a 50 mile weekend, or any serious legging up program, the horse needs daily movement.  The performance vet recommended a hot walker (she know's not the hard scratch farm I live on will never have one of those), but a person could put on a long and light longe line and exercise the horse that way if you had some mud free footing in your round pen.  I'd imagine it would also minimize muscle soreness post right to be able to get out and stretch those tendons and shove lactic acid out of the muscle tissues.  We always have stall time at night during bad weather, but honestly I'm going to have to re-think that in certain situations.

My reading also indicates that a tie-up doesn't need to be a career ending incident, though I still have the eeeebie-jeeeeeeebies over the whole thing.  It is not uncommon for a race horse to tie-up and be back in training three to five days after it occurred.  I wish I had access to a good endurance vet that I could spend an hour with on the topic.  I did read about DMG and it is recommended as a supplement for horses with this problem, as is chromium.  I ordered a product called Tie-by from Animed (recommended by performance veterinarian) which has vitaman E, selenium, DMG, Vitamin C, and Chromium.  I had already been giving her E & selenium, but not the others, and this product has it all in one so I'm not messing with five jars of stuff.  I'm sure it is not a magic bullet, but I can at least try to support her physiologically, and try to hedge the bet against a cramp up.

I rode her again last night, tweaking up about ten minutes per session, we are up to 40 minutes.  She seemed fine, and I had to insist that she not canter yet.  Just walking and trotting.  Massaged her rump deep and hard when we were done, and she is learning to tolerate that.


  1. If you can get a nice run-in setup, having horses out 24x7 is the way to go. A stall is nice to have for certain injuries and illnesses, but otherwise, horses are much better off outside. And it takes much less time to keep things up as well! With the time you save, you can ride more. :-) Can't recommend pea stone for your run-in enough!

    Horses in the wild don't get "rest" days. They are always moving. I have heard many times that the cure for much of what ails horses is movement. There are exceptions of course, but they were meant to be moving something like 30-40 miles a day.

  2. I began subscribing to your blog a few weeks or maybe a month ago, and read about Phebes' tie-ups. Have you had selenium levels run on her blood? I don't remember reading about them if you did. Several riders on RideCamp monitor selenium levels on their mares that were prone to tie-up and have found that having levels slightly above the Normal range has kept their horses tie-up free. The archives should have info on the numbers and products.

    I have seen horses CTR horses tie up just once or twice and go on to be successful, but I don't remember what they did. Good luck to you and your girl!