Lizzie Drury MSc RNutr

There are some simple dietary adjustments that can put into place to help reduce the risk of tying-up, or other symptoms of muscle myopathies, and help to manage those horses who may have suffered an episode. 


Good quality grass hay or a high quality haylage should form the basis of the diet. For leisure horses that are not in training then forage should ideally be fed on an ad-lib basis or, alternatively, intake should be aimed at 1.5 - 2% of body weight, i.e a 500kg horse should receive a MINIMUM of 7.5kg of forage per day. 

Horses that are in hard training should receive a minimum of 1% of their bodyweight in forage daily. This should besplit between several feedings, with the largest portion being overnight, so that horses are not left for extendedperiods of time with nothing to eat. Forage will pay a large proportion of the horse’s energy bill and help to reducethe reliance on feeding high levels of concentrate feed.

Concentrate feed 

Horse With A History of Tying Up 

Horses that have had an episode of muscle stiffness, increased muscle soreness or an episode of Tying-Up should be gradually introduced to a concentrate feed that is cereal free and therefore low in starch and sugar but high in digestible fibres and fat.

Saracen RE-LEVE® is specifically formulated to manage horses prone to compromised muscle function and is designed to form the sole concentrate feed. 

RE-LEVE® can be fed to all types of horse from those that  that are on box rest or in light work, up to those in full training.  The level of RE-LEVE® fed should be gradually increased in conjunction with an increase in the level of exercise. For horses that are in regular race training, hunting or competing, average and typical intakes would be expected to be between 3 - 5 Kg per day. It is strongly recommended to contact a nutritionist at Saracen Horse Feeds for individual feeding plans for horses working at this level.

Re Leve EGUS smallRE-LEVE® is a high performance mix designed for horses that react to a cereal based diet. It is suitable for horses at every level, and can be supplemented with Equi-Jewel® when more energy (calories) is required for work or weight gain. Soya hulls, lucerne pellets and beet pulp supply oil and fibre as the energy sources, keeping starch to a bare minimum. It is fortified with a concentrated source of proteins, trace elements and yeast, as well as natural Vitamin E and selenium to assist normal muscle function.   

When workloads increases and energy demands are higher, or your horse requires a large amount of help to increase his condition, RE-LEVE® can be topped up with EQUI-JEWEL®.  This can be added to the ration, and can be fed between 0.5 - 1kg per day (2 - 4 cups). 

Equi-Jewel web

EQUI-JEWEL® is pelleted, high oil, stabilised rice bran supplement designed to increase the energy density of the whole diet, thereby decreasing the reliance on cereals in the diet.  EQUI-JEWEL® is also an ideal product to improve topline and condition on your horse, whether you are bound for the show ring, require improved muscle tone, or are simply not carrying enough condition.

The essential fatty acids contained in EQUI-JEWEL® are necessary for healthy coat and skin condition.  Horses receiving EQUI-JEWEL® will quickly exhibit stunning coat gloss and bloom.  In addition to improved condition, research has proven its superiority in optimising performance. When substituted for vegetable oils in rations, horses had lower heart rates and subsequent shorter recovery periods.

EQUI-JEWEL® is fortified with the correct level of Vitamin E and selenium and ensures optimum calcium to phosphorus ratio.

Some horses that are prone to Tying-Up are good-doers and cannot be fed the usual recommended ration of RE-LEVE® and EQUI-JEWEL® as this would be likely to encourage weight gain. For these horses we recommend SHAPE-UP™, a low calorie, low intake feed balancer. SHAPE-UP™ was designed to provide all the benefits of RE-LEVE®; cereal-free, low starch and low sugar; but in a low calorie form.

Shape Up small 2


Shape-Up™ is a low starch, high fibre mix designed to provide a balanced diet at low intake levels, and to help maintain a normal, healthy metabolism.  It can be used as a calorie controlled ration for those prone to laminitis, Equine Metabolic Syndrome or Cushing's in order to meet micronutrient requirements without excess sugar, calories and starch intake.

For horses prone to Tying-Up SHAPE-UP™ is cereal-free and low in starch and sugar helping to maintain optimum muscle function.



Additional Feed or Supplements

It is recommended to add a good quality chaff to the ration as chaff encourage the horse to chew thoroughly, stopping them rushing their feeds, and increasing saliva production. An increase in saliva production helps to buffer stomach acid, which decreases the risk of gastric ulcers. In addition feeding chaff slows the rate of passage of the feed through the digestive system helping to ensure the horse can fully break down and utilise the feed in the correct areas of the gut.

Alfalfa chaff is usually a good option, as alfalfa is low in sugars and starch so will not exaggerate the condition. Alfalfa is also high in calcium, which acts as a natural antacid, so helps to soothe any gastric irritation. A small meal of alfalfa fed before early morning training sessions can help to protect the stomach lining from acid irritation and ensure that when horses return to the stable their appetites are maintained.

Vitamin E 

Nano E2 NEW smallSome horses may also benefit from the strategic use of a natural vitamin E supplement, such as KERx Nano•E®. A regular schedule of training and competition makes performance horses susceptible to muscle damage, which is due largely to oxidative stress. KERx Nano•E® provides fast-acting antioxidant protection for hard-working horses. Formulated by the scientists at Kentucky Equine Research (KER), research has shown that natural vitamin E is preferentially absorbed and retained by the horse compared to traditional synthetic sources. KERx Nano•E® should be supplemented daily for 7 days following a 'Tying Up' episode and then used strategically 3 days prior to an intense work out, during and for 3 days post work out. 



It is also recommended to add some salt (normal table salt) into the ration for horses that have suffered a Tying-Up episode, especially if they are in regular work. This helps to replace some of the mineral salts that are lost through sweat. This is especially important for a horse with an increased risk of Tying-Up, as a decrease in important electrolytes can be a contributing factor in muscle stiffness and Tying-Up. 

RestoreSR SmallBucket NEW VsmallDuring periods when the horse may be heavily sweating the use of a specifically designed electrolyte supplement, such as KERx Restore SR, is advised. This will ensure that not only is the sodium and chloride replaced, but also the potassium, magnesium and calcium. The reason an electrolyte supplement is not needed on a daily basis is because potassium, magnesium and calcium are only lost in very small amounts and only need repacing, in addition to the horse's usual feed, if the horse is heaviy sweating. When using an electrolyte supplement ensure the horse has free access to clean, fresh water.
Water Intake  
Along with a decrease in electrolytes a decrease in water intake, and the associated dehydration, can increase the risk of a tying-up episode. Lack of water intake will rapidly dehydrate your horse and severely effect health and performance. If your horse is fussy with water when you travel and compete start practicing at home by encouraging your horse to drink flavoured water, for example, flavoured with apple juice or mint. Alternatively make sure that you have enough water containers on board to take enough ‘home’ water with you. If your horse is still reluctant to drink while travelling and competing then offering a soaked product, such as Saracen Re-Covery Mash, is advised. These usually do the trick! 

Re-Covery Mash is highly palatable, versatile and convenient to use in many different situations. It contains a blend of ’Super-Fibres’, known for their superior digestibility and provision of non-heating calories, plus a source of electrolytes to aid re-hydration. The super fibres help to ‘top up’ the performance horse’s fibre and water intake and, together with electrolytes, helps to maintain optimum hydration and thirst response, during periods of travel, warm weather, sweating, intensive training and exertion. Re-Covery Mash also includes a live yeast to support gut flora and stabilise the pH of the gut, as well as vitamin E to support normal muscle function and recovery. Saracen Re-Covery Mash should be soaked before use and will take 5 – 10 minutes to soak in warm water, or 15 – 20 minutes in cold water. The amount of water added will depend upon the individual horse and the reason for feeding the mash.


Need some guidance?

For a personalised feeding plan for your horse, please complete our simple and free feed advice form. Alternatively, if you would prefer to speak to one of our qualified nutritionists for some immediate advice, please call our feed advice line on 01622 718 487