As horses get older their nutritional needs change and adapting to these changes can be a key factor in maintaining the health of senior horses.
Senior horses become more susceptible to certain age-related disorders such as;
- Liver and kidneys issues
- PPID (Cushing's disease)
- Sarcoids and melanomas
- Degenerative joint disease
- Dental problems
- Loss of body condition
- Regular dental check-ups - as horses get older their teeth can become less anchored and cause pain, this can cause the horse to be put off their feed and thus cause them to lose weight.
- Adjust the horses’ diet - ensure the horse’s diet is designed for their age, this is especially important as older horses have different nutritional needs and often need specialised supplementation such as for arthritis or PPID (Cushing's). Older horses will benefit from a high fibre diet that is low in sugar and starch.
- Add water to their feed - as order horses often struggle to chew properly it can be extremely beneficial to add water to their feed. This not only increases the palatability of the feed but also increases the horse’s water consumption.
- Ensure the horse is still getting an appropriate amount of exercise - older horses still need a form of exercise, even daily turnout at a bare minimum. This is because it is essential for mass circulation and gut health that they move around as much as possible.
- Spend longer warming up - older horses often require more time to loosen up when being ridden. Spending 10 minutes in walk can be extremely beneficial as it allows the horse to loosen up thus becoming less stiff and helping prevent any injuries.
- Regular vet check-ups – some horses may develop issues that are not always visible to the naked eye, and catching these early as part of routine vet check-ups can mean a greater chance of recovery or maintaining health.