Old age is difficult for any species, be it a horse or a human. As horses age, certain issues such as arthritis and respiratory issues can start cropping up. In the past when horses were primarily used for work, transportation, and farming, they did not live as long as they do today.
Workloads have reduced and nutrition and how we take care of horses has changed. Now senior horses can live for much longer than they would have in the past. To help you make their senior years as comfortable as possible, we have provided some tips on how to take care of an ageing horse.
As horses grow older, they may have issues absorbing nutrients from forage and feed. This is not the only reason this may happen as there are some conditions related to age that can also cause this. For example, endocrine disorders and tooth wear can drastically affect how a horse feeds. Any of these can necessitate a change in a senior horse’s diet.
Owners have to keep a close eye on senior horses so that they notice quickly if their health condition changes. If they observe such changes, they should try to find out why they have occurred before landing on changing nutrition needs as the cause.
Also, ensure that your horse is getting good hay and green grass as part of their diet. Forage is very beneficial for intestinal function while also providing enough calories for older horses.
In cases where you think that the feed and forage do not have enough minerals and nutrients, you can use supplements and concentrates to make up for this. There are many types of feeds for senior horses that are nutritionally balanced to fulfil the needs of your horse.
You can find the right feed for your senior horses through retailers like Equi Supermarket which carry different types of feed and supplements from top brands. Equi Supermarket also sells haylage, horse licks and treats to help you keep your horse happy and healthy. All products in their equestrian range are very affordable, and they also provide efficient and reliable deliveries.
Senior horses can become inactive because they are no longer competing or being ridden as much as they used to be. Arthritis is also a serious issue that can impair movement, leading to a horse becoming adamant about remaining inactive. Regular exercise within the limits of what the horse can manage can relieve some of these issues, making them happier and healthier.
While ensuring your senior horse remains active is important, there are some things to watch out for. Older horses overheat and tire much faster than younger horses. They also lose more fluid when outside. When you watch for these things, you will know the limits of your horse, so you know how much exercise to subject them to.
Second, always check how the saddle fits. Changes in the topline can change how the saddle sits on the horse, and you might cause them pain or even injure them if you do not watch out for this.
Additionally, understand that a horse’s spine becomes weak and their back sags as they age. While exercise can help slow down both of these, you should always check whether you need to refit the saddle from time to time to prevent injury.
Lastly, get a veterinarian to check whether your horse has arthritis if you notice any wincing or pain while walking. Soreness and stiffness can make for an excruciating experience if a horse has untreated arthritis. Get some medication and ensure only light exercise for horses that have developed arthritis.
Horses are highest when they are outside enjoying the fresh air and feeling the breeze on their coats. Horses that stay in the stable for too long breathe in contaminants that include dust and hair that build up in such spaces. This can be detrimental to a horse’s respiratory health, and the issue is even more serious in senior horses.
Build a run-in shed or other structure so your horse can enjoy the fresh air and breeze without being subjected to harsh weather. Also, check that your horse is not being bullied by younger horses. This can happen as older horses lose their aggression. If they are being bullied, separate them from the herd and give them some space.
Dental issues are not always obvious in senior horses. Observing how they hold their heads while they chew food can tell you if there is something you should be concerned about. You should also try to see if there is half-chewed hay in their cheeks or food falling out of their mouths as they feed. If you observe any of these, get a veterinarian to check them out.
Senior horses have several issues that you should keep an eye on if you want them to remain happy, healthy and comfortable in their old age. Good nutrition, regular observations and veterinary check-ups will all play a part in ensuring a happy and healthy senior horse.