Care For Older Horses
How to Take Care of an Older Horse
Don't Forget the TLC
Horses over the age of 16 tend to suffer from weight loss, dental problems, pituitary/thyroid dysfunction, kidney or liver failure and arthritis. But with special care, elderly equines can live long, healthy, productive lives.
Have your senior horse checked out by a veterinarian. Check for dental problems - teeth should be checked twice a year in horses over 20 - and get a blood test to screen for kidney and liver problems.
Watch your senior horse for changes in body condition, behavior and attitude, the first signs of aging. Provide food that is easy to chew and swallow.
Do your best to keep your horse in a clean, dust-free environment to prevent or lessen the impact of allergies or lung disease.
Provide plenty of protection from the elements. An older horse may require warmer blankets and even a heat lamp for cold weather, and a fan and shade in the summer.
Have your older horse shod regularly whether you ride it or not.
Groom your older horse frequently to promote circulation and skin health.
Look for any new or unusual lumps; these may be tumors.
Give your horse essential vitamins and minerals. Calcium and phosphorus in the proper ratio and vitamins C and B complex are all important. Talk to your vet.
Realize that hormonal and metabolic changes affect your horse's ability to digest, absorb and utilize essential nutrients, especially protein, phosphorus and fiber.
Feed your older horse a diet especially designed for it. Special complete rations formulated to address the nutritional needs of older horses are available. Older horses should get 12 to 16 percent protein in their diet and additional fat to help keep weight up.
See that your older horse gets plenty of exercise.
Tips & Warnings:
Your horse has given you years of good service and care, make sure you do the same for it.
If you have any questions or concerns, contact a veterinarian before engaging in any activity related to health and diet. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment.