EPM, IR, EMS, COPD, DJD, OA, Confused Yet? LOL
Equine Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy (EPSM) is a glycogen
storage disorder affecting skeletal muscle function. Diets high in
carbohydrates (starch) contribute to the onset of symptoms but do
not cause the disease.
EPSM is primarily found in Warmblood, Draft Horses, Quarter Horses
(including Paints and Appaloosas) and mixes of these breeds with
In Quarter Horses there is a genetic correlation and inheritance is
possible. The incidence is not gender specific.
Horses with EPSM will always be more prone to muscle soreness. The
most common clinical signs are painful firm muscles (especially
along the back and hindquarters), reluctance to collect and engage
the hind end, stiffness, short stride, gait abnormalities, weakness,
and muscle atrophy. EPSM can progress to tying up (exertional
rhabdomyolysis (ER), Monday Morning Disease) where there is severe
muscle trembling and muscle damage that can lead to secondary kidney
damage and even death.
Blood work with elevated muscle enzymes (CPK, CK, AST) indicates
muscle damage, but not the specific cause. To confirm EPSM, a muscle
biopsy is required. Management of horses with EPSM involves exercise
and diet. Keeping the horse fit to improve oxidative metabolism and
fat utilization for energy is important. This involves a very slow
build up in the exercise program realizing that the duration is as
important as the intensity of the work. These horses should have
minimal stall confinement and get daily exercise. The diet for EPSM
horses should be a low sugar, low starch with high fat as the
primary energy source.
Functionally, these horses do very well when they are not given
grains and sugars, including those used in treats. While a diet with
a very high fat content is important, the quality and digestibility
of those fats are critical. Good fats that are not inflammatory such
as flax, hemp and coconut oil offer great support and energy. EPSM
horses often do well on a primarily alfalfa hay. They benefit
greatly from supplemental gut support and digestive enzymes to
ensure proper digestion. A vitamin/mineral supplement that supports
the horse’s endocrine system and sugar metabolism may be beneficial.
If they are muscle sore, natural anti-inflammatory products, such as
FRE liquid, prove to be very helpful and avoid the GI toxicity of
the drugs often used.
This tip was brought to you by KAM Animal Services, home of KAM’s
“Equine Learning Circle” FREE webinars, which will take place twice
a month. Go to www.kamanimalservices.com to sign up for the
February 21st webinar (Oh,
those sweet calories.......Understanding EMS / IR). These
webinars will conclude with a question and answer session, so be
ready with your nutrition questions.