Tying Up

Proper feeding for a horse with a history of tying up.

Learn the proper feeding for a horse with a history of tying up.

Ask an ExpertQuestion:

I have a young gelding that has had previous tying-up episodes, but none in the past year. Can

you please provide suggestions/guidelines for the proper feed and supplements? I am also limiting his intake of green grass because I’ve heard the sugar in the grass may cause a flare-up. Is there a good online source I can go to for learning more to manage this condition?

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


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.

Typically, a diet that is low in carbohydrates and higher in fat is recommended. A Vitamin E supplement may also be beneficial. Because lush pasture grasses contain a high amount of sugar (carbohydrates), horses with PSSM consuming lush pasture may be at risk for future episodes of tying-up. Therefore, limiting access to lush pasture is recommended in horses with PSSM.

Get further information on PSSM and dietary recommendations from the University of Minnesota’s College of Veterinary Medicine Neuromuscular Lab. Consult with your veterinarian on what type of diet is most appropriate

for your horse.

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

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