Caring for an Aging Horse

Caring for an Aging Horse

There isn’t any set time for a horse to become old. Some ponies can be ridden well into their 30’s, while other equines may be seniors by the time they reach their early 20’s. Much of how horses age is determined by their quality of life during their earlier years, but some horses simply need more special care than others do. That said, there are some areas that tend to be problematic in many older horses. In this article, your local vet Park County gives some insight on caring for your equine friend in his golden years.

Teeth

A horse’s dental health is critical to his overall well-being, and this is especially true in older horses. Dental problems can lead to a whole slew of other health issues in horses, including digestive issues, infections, and even colic. Make sure your vet checks your horse’s teeth regularly.

Condition

Sometimes senior horses have a hard time keeping weight on, while others get pudgy very easily. There are even horses that fluctuate from being too fat in summer to too thin in winter. Talk to your vet about your horse’s diet, and keep a close eye on your horse’s body condition, and address any issues quickly. It’s much better to make slight adjustments to your horse’s diet than to wait until drastic changes are needed. Also, remember to get your horse’s bloodwork done at least once a year.

Hooves

Also known as laminitis, founder is an extremely painful condition, which can be fatal. Founder is very common in older horses, particularly those that are obese. Keep a schedule of regular appointments with your farrier, pay close attention to your horse’s hoof condition, and make sure his stall is dry, with the bedding spread as evenly as possible.

Diet

Older horses will need extra fat and protein in their diets, but giving your horse too much grain can be problematic, as it can lead to digestive issues and even colic. You can add vegetable oils or sugar beet pulp to your horse’s grain to up his caloric intake. If your horse has dental issues, you may need to crush his grain to make it easier for him to chew. It is also very important that you feed your older horse quality hay, as hay that is too old or too tough may be harder for him to eat.

Every horse ages differently, but some remain playful their entire lives, so don’t be surprised to see your old buddy kicking his heels up and cantering around his paddock or pasture. He might still be a colt at heart!

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