May 18, 2023
As horses age, they require more specialized care to keep them healthy and happy. Senior horses, typically those over the age of 15, are more susceptible to certain health issues and may require changes in diet and exercise routine. Senior horses have specific needs that differ from younger horses, and it is important to be aware of these needs to ensure they receive the best possible care. In this blog, we will discuss some of the key considerations for senior horse care.
Important Aspects of Senior Horse Care
One of the most important aspects of senior horse care is diet. As horses age, their digestive systems become less efficient, and they may have difficulty absorbing nutrients from their food. This can lead to weight loss and other health problems.
You may need to adjust their diet to ensure that your senior horse is getting the nutrition they need. There are horse feeds specifically formulated for older horses, and these feeds are usually easier to digest and contain a higher level of protein and other nutrients.
In addition to choosing a suitable feed, monitoring your horse’s weight and adjusting its feeding schedule as needed is important. Senior horses may need to be fed in smaller amounts across more meals to ensure they get enough nutrients without overloading their digestive system.
Another important aspect of senior horse care is dental care. As horses age, their teeth may become worn down or damaged, making it difficult for them to chew their food properly. This can lead to weight loss and other health problems.
Regular dental exams and floating (filing) of their teeth can help ensure that your senior horse’s teeth are healthy and in good condition. If your horse has dental issues, your veterinarian may recommend soaking their feed in water or providing them with specially formulated feeds that are easier to chew.
As horses age, they may develop arthritis or other joint issues. Therefore, it is essential to monitor senior horses for signs of joint pain or stiffness and to provide them with appropriate joint supplements or medications as needed. In addition, regular exercise and turnout can help to keep senior horses limber and active, which can help to prevent joint issues from developing or worsening.
Most senior horses are not able to handle the same level of exercise as younger horses. However, regular exercise is needed to help keep them healthy and maintain their muscle tone.
Walking and light riding are usually appropriate forms of exercise for senior horse care. Monitor your horse closely and adjust their exercise routine based on their energy level and overall health.
In addition to exercise, senior horses may benefit from other forms of physical therapy, such as massage or acupuncture, to help alleviate joint pain and other age-related issues.
Senior horses may have difficulty maintaining a healthy weight, especially if they have dental issues or other health problems. It is important to watch for signs of weight loss or gain and adjust their feeding and exercise routines accordingly. Regular body condition scoring can be a helpful tool in monitoring weight changes over time.
Senior horses may be more prone to hoof problems, such as laminitis or abscesses. Regular hoof care, including trimming and shoeing, is essential to maintaining healthy hooves. It is also vital to provide senior horses with a comfortable, supportive environment, such as soft footing or hoof boots, to help prevent hoof issues from developing or worsening.
Senior Horse Wellness Exams
Regular veterinary check-ups are essential for senior horse care. Your veterinarian can monitor your horse’s overall health and recommend any necessary treatments or medications.
In addition to regular check-ups, senior horses may require additional healthcare interventions, such as joint supplements or medication to manage chronic conditions such as arthritis.
Senior horses may also be more susceptible to certain health issues, such as Cushing’s disease or other metabolic syndromes. If you notice any changes in your horse’s behavior or health, consult with your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Check Their Stool
This may sound strange, but looking at the excrement of your older horse may save its life. Regular monitoring of a senior’s horse “poo” is an excellent way to catch the time when you may have to stop feeding hay entirely and switch to feeding soaked hay pellets. It may even save your horse’s life by preventing a colic impaction which can be deadly or require emergency surgery.
The back teeth of horses wear down over time, and they are unable to chew hay effectively. With a large amount of insufficiently chewed hay getting into the GI tract, there is a chance of getting impactions in the intestines which is a medical emergency. By looking at the stool, you might see undigested, unchewed hay that is 1/4 to 1 inch long. To get a better comparison, look at the younger horse’s excrement.
When you compare the two, you’ll see the difference between unchewed and undigested hay, and properly digested hay. If you notice this with your senior horse, we recommend taking them off hay and putting them on fully-soaked hay pellets. All hay pellets should be fully soaked and broken down before feeding to prevent choke hazards.
Also, dry hay pellets expand quite a lot and if a horse gobbles dry hay pellets up too quickly, the pellets can cause problems. They will hit the horse’s stomach and combine with liquid in the stomach. Soaking hay pellets until they’ve fully dissolved before feeding solves these potential issues.
Some pellet companies produce pellets that break up immediately when put in water. Using hot water can help as well.
Finally, the environment in which your senior horse lives can also significantly impact its health and well-being. Older horses may have a harder time regulating their body temperature and may need access to special shelter or blankets during cold weather.
In addition, senior horses may be more sensitive to changes in their environment, such as changes in their routine or exposure to new horses. It is important to provide a stable and predictable environment for your senior horse to help minimize stress and maintain their health.
Maintain Senior Horse Health with Gladiator Equine
Senior horse care involves a variety of factors, including diet, dental care, exercise, healthcare, and environment. By taking a holistic approach to senior horse care and working closely with your veterinarian, you can help ensure that your older horse enjoys a happy, healthy life.
Our innovative therapeutic products offer a new alternative to improve a horse’s quality of life while reducing costs associated with treating injuries and wounds. Use Gladiator Equine products following anything from a trail ride to showing your horse to help aid recovery and prepare for tomorrow. To learn more about our far-infrared technology, contact Gladiator Equine today.
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