Exercising a Horse With PSSM

Learn these tips for managing an exercise program for a horse with polysaccharide storage myopathy.

Learn these tips for managing an exercise program for a horse with polysaccharide storage myopathy.

Ask an ExpertQuestion:

Under my vet’s guidance, I have started my 7-year-old gelding on a high fat-low carbohydrate diet, as he has shown signs of PSSM. Will you please describe a regular exercise program that is beneficial for a horse with PSSM?

For the answer, we consulted Dr. Holly Bedford with the American Association of Equine Practitioners.


Typically, a diet that is low in carbohydrates and higher in fat is recommended. A Vitamin E supplement may also be beneficial. Regular exercise is recommended in horses with PSSM, as it has been shown to reduce clinical signs of disease. Exercise should consist of a regular fitness program, as well as daily turnout to keep the horse moving. As little as 15 minutes of exercise per day has been shown to have beneficial effects for managing horses with PSSM.

The amount of exercise recommended depends on whether your horse is currently having episodes of tying-up with exercise. In cases where the horse is showing signs of tying-up with exercise, slow gradual

increases in exercise intensity and duration is recommended.

For more detailed information on dietary and exercise recommendations for horses with PSSM, please visit the University of Minnesota’s College of Veterinary Medicine Neuromuscular Lab.

A Note on PSSM:

The first step in managing horses with tying-up episodes is to obtain a proper diagnosis. A definitive diagnosis of polysaccharide storage myopathy (PSSM) is made through muscle biopsy. A genetic test is also available but may not be the most appropriate diagnostic test in all horses. For PSSM testing, please consult with your veterinarian to determine which test is best for your horse.

— Dr. Holly Bedford, member of the American Association of Equine Practitioners


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