Contact information:

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

May 11, 2011

What is the consensus of feeling concerning Phebes continuing slowly

I'm still in a quagmire of misery about what to do.  Most of the information I've read indicates that horse's tie up and then go on to compete with adequate nutrition and supplements.  No guarantee out there that it won't slam you again in another 10 miles or another 1000 miles.  We had 700 miles without incident.

 It is not financially feasible over the long term for me to feed and care for a horse that is not in use.  My horse is very reactive and would not be suitable for most people.  She'd be great under an experienced person, and I could see her excelling at arena work, or even as a pleasure horse in the right hands.  In the wrong hands she'd likely go down a very bad road.  I don't want that for her.  As tumultous as mine and Phebes "relationship" has been, she has also taught me more than any other horse ever has or probably ever could.  I've discovered things about myself that I did not like and had to address.  I've had to change how I think, how I ride, and even my goals to better meet her needs.  I'm okay with that.  I've had several people write to say that their horses have had a tie-up at various times, gotten over it, and went bobbing along again for a long time.  I'm certain "why" it happened as it did, and even now under the set of circumstances I don't know that I'd have ridden her in deep sliding mud for the sake of movement, but I would give her turn out, and reduce her ration way below what I give after a 50 mile weekend in the future.  There is also the fact that a "normal" horse won't tie up, and there is some kind of underlying issue, but nobody knows the cause really. Some of you have been with me for the length of my journey.  What in honesty would you do in my set of circumstances?  I truly hate this cross road I find myself at.

I am looking at a horse hopefully on Saturday.   There is another horse in Cincinnati that I've inquired about for more information. 
My heart is still with this horse... I've ridden her for the past several days and she has been fine.  We did 15 minutes, 30 minutes,  45 minutes, and an hour yesterday.  She is chomping to GO but I didn't let her.  There are a few management options I can tweak.  Both tie-ups were during a heat cycle in during a ride, and one two weeks following a ride.  I don't think the heat cycle thing was coincidental, maybe not THE factor, but a factor.  I can assure a low low starch diet, the right supplements, but I can not assure the processes that I cannot see.  Am I in denial?  Am I making sense? 

My choices are:

Try, try again.  Leg up for Top of the rock in three weeks, and hope for the best, ride slow.

Sell Phebes, and stick with starting a new horse.

Put Phebes on a one year hiatus, try to heal any simmering underlying issues, reducing to maintenance feed, and one weekly pleasure ride, and start the new horse as quickly as feasible into LSD, and shoot for the fall rides (this would give us June,July, Aug, to prepare for slow finishes in Sept/Oct.  Then over the winter pleasure ride and keep Phebes somewhat fit, and see who my best prospect is come spring and make a decision then.  It would still be a miserable hard decision. ~E.G.


  1. I'm no endurance rider, though I've certainly considered taking it up. However, as far as the weather goes, dramatic changes in heat cause problems with my boy, too. He's never tied up, but he frequently goes off his feed and shows a few symptoms of colic, though it's not colic.

    It seems you have a good plan set, just be extra careful through out the seasons of weather change- spring and fall. I certainly hope you have no more problems with Phebes.

  2. Very hard decisions, wish I had answers for you - listen to your heart.

    I had a horse today who had trouble in the heat - not true tying up but something related to metabolism/salts. I've only had one true tie-up in my horse life and it was very scary.

  3. EG-

    First of all, although I've been quiet, I've been following your journey with Phebes with absolute heartbreak. I know how gutwrenching it can be to want something so bad and to constantly trip over obstacles to get there. I just wanted to chime in with some fancy doctor advice.

    Your management of Phebe has been spot-on from the start. She's turned out, she gets low carbohydrate food, and you take it slow with her and are careful not to leave her sitting for too long after strenuous exercise (competitions). My concern for a horse like Phebe is that there may be an underlying genetic cause for her repeated tie-up episodes, something like exertional rhabdomyolysis or, less likely, polysaccharide storage myopathy.

    Therefore, I believe it would be money VERY well spent to have a muscle biopsy done. That way, you'd be 100% sure which direction to go. If she's got something genetically wrong with her muscles, you know you'd be making the right decision putting her in a new home. Likely with correct management she would avoid ever having any repeated episodes. If it wasn't something genetic/structural, you could *potentially* chalk it up to a couple of freak accidents and bad timing, although I don't think you've done anything to hinder Phebes at all. With giving her time off and starting her slow in this case, if she ever had any repeat episodes I would haul her down to your performance vet and have blood drawn immediately.

    Just a suggestion, it would give you some peace of mind.

    Dr. Elly :)

  4. Years ago when I was in 4-H I had a horse that would tie-up. The 1st time was a week after a 30 mile competitive trail ride. He tied-up walking to the field. Then a few months later at a 4 day horse show (mild symptoms). The last time was the next year at the same 30 mile ride, he tied-up in the first 2 miles, no one would listen to me and I had to take him thru the rest of the ride, it was a nightmare. I pretty much just did pleasure riding with he from then on and no more problems. I think all horses are individuals and there is no way to predict if they will have another episode. It sounds like you are very in tune with you horse and would know when to stop if she showed any signs. One more thing to worry about, I'm sure you are already aware that myoglobin (the breakdown product of muscle damaage)can be damaging to the kidneys. I pray for you in your decision.

  5. No one can decide what is right for you. I think you just need to dig deep and decide what is most important to you. When it was clear that Doc was not cut out to be the dressage horse I wanted him to be, I switched disciplines. But I was not so committed to dressage that it was a big deal for me. I am interested in a LOT of diffferent types of disciplines and activities that I can do with my horse. For me, I loved Doc's personality too much to be too focused on a particular discipline. If you really feel that Phoebes is not cut out for the job and you really want to continue to pursue endurance, then I do not think it is unreasonable to sell her. I am sure the right owner for Phoebes is out there somewhere. But if you decide that you would rather keep her, there are a lot of other fun things you can do! And I seriously think taking a year off, doing some fun trail rides, ACTHA rides, maybe a cow clinic or something would be a nice break for you both. Then come back to endurance in a year and see where you are.

    BTW, Doc & I are back to doing a little dressage and we are both getting along just fine now. :-)

    As to whether to keep trying endurance with Phoebes, I think you need to go with your gut on that one. You know your horse best.

  6. I'm not sure anybody out here in the blogosphere can really advise you properly--I know that *I* don't feel qualified.

    What would *I* do? It depends on so many things!

    Is there another suitable home for Phebes, with a workload that she would love and would be successful in doing as a career? Would you be able to accept giving her up to somebody else...possibly for life? What would you be able to do for her if a new home didn't work out in 6 months or a year?

    We currently have Hana, who is "mostly retired" from endurance. She still does trails and lessons, and we take her up to build trails in the wilderness; she's just not "sound enough" for endurance, and we don't want to risk her future soundness for a t-shirt. Around here, the economy is bad enough that we don't want to sell her. If the right home comes along some day, we'll let her go, but until then Jim will probably not ride in competitions unless somebody loans him a horse.

    That works out okay for him...for me, it would be more difficult. I abstained from competition for 2 years while I was legging up Fee--we still went to endurance rides, only I didn't compete. I was **really** ready to play the game again after 2 years out, but I discovered that I had learned so much in my "downtime" that I was glad to have taken it.

    I know that doesn't answer the question. Sorry.

  7. Well, since you asked - I'd suggest a combo of 1 and 3 - except just don't compete when you attend rides. Drag ride, or do PRs and let Phebes just camp and chill.

    I think Phebes does have an underlying issue - anxiety! I can't remember if I've ever seen her just stand and be calm even just tied to the trailer.

    Remain a part of the endurance scene, attend rides, just don't compete - go slow, get her exposed to all those stressful things until she CAN stand still and relax at the trailer. I think maybe the added stress of competition, right now, for her is just too much - especially considering how she doesn't really fully rest even when you're not riding, at least when you're away from home. With practice though, I bet she'd get there - and you'd still be having fun riding the horse you've built a strong connection with, and still be working toward your goal of riding endurance.

    Easy to say for someone who has never competed....but you came a long way just getting her to go slow at a ride - I bet if you removed the stress of actually competing for a few rides, but kept going to them, I bet you'd be surprised at how she improved.

    I know it's a tough decision, but as others have said - only you can really get to the answer.

  8. I don't think any of those options is the wrong answer. Anybody who tries to second guess you later about this is an ass. I don't know what I'd do, and I don't know what you should do, but I think any of your choices sounds reasonable.