Four Challenges Your older Horse will Face it, Have an older horse companion in your pasture?
In terms of being considered a senior horse, if your equine is 20 or older he is a veteran or campaigner. This age by the way would make him about a 60-year- old human.
Your horse’s aging process will vary, and will also depend on his breed, workload, conformation, medical history, and the care he receives.
Each horse is an individual. So how they age will be totally different.
1- Older Horse and his Teeth:
The first challenge of the four Challenges Your older Horse will Face is his teeth:
Horses of course are grazing animals, and their mouths are set up just right for that angled neck hanging down to graze, nip and shear grass off and grind and chew it.
Over the years this constant grinding wears the tooth surfaces down, and they fall out.
This makes eating difficult for your horse and also means if he can’t eat properly, he will start to lose his condition.
And that brings with it a whole host of other problems.
How can you take care of horse teeth:
The best thing you can do for your older equine is to have the Vet check his teeth twice a year for any abnormal wear, waves, hooks, or sore gums.
Dealing with these things quickly will keep your horse able to eat for a long longer.
In anticipation, start him on mashes slowly so if he gets to the point where he needs them on a regular basis, he is already used to them.
Older horses often have difficulty eating long fiber food.
You can solve this problem by switching to shorter cropped hay and/or add high fiber cubes as mash or straight.
If you keep on top of dental issues, you can save your horse a lot of grief, and you can save money and problems in the future
2- Older horses and Arthritis:
Another fairly familiar problem with an aging horse is degenerative joint disease aka arthritis.
You most definitely can still work them and in fact should work them to keep them limber, active and alert.
You would just need to remember to warm them up gently and thoroughly before doing any work.
Many older horses, although they may be sore and stiff, still love to go out and do things.
Their minds aren’t dead and they are still interested in life.
With an older pal, you’ve worked, you will need to cool them down slowly by hand walking them and rubbing them dry with a towel.
You might even want to give them a warm bath if you have the facilities.
When you get to be that age, a little pampering is a nice thing.
Treat the feet and your older horse will still give you many more miles.
Work with your farrier and get regular trimming and shoeing to help reduce concussion.
If you keep them on pasture, then opting to go barefoot is good for their joints
3- Older horse and obesity :
Like humans, older equines do tend to put on weight if they are overfed and underworked.
Keep an eye on their feed intake and keep them mobile.
If your horse is getting a bit pudgy, adjust his feed.
If he’s not keeping his weight or is losing it, also adjust your feed to include more protein and oils – for instance, equine fish oil with Omega 3 and corn oil.
4- Colic in older horse:
And the other issue with older horses is colic.
Symptoms include lack of appetite, pawing, kicking at the abdomen, getting up and down, rolling, restlessness, flank watching and/or biting, elevated skin temperature, sweating from pain, and a sawhorse stance.
As you know, if you suspect colic, call your veterinarian immediately. Any delays can be fatal.
Why do older horses seem to have more difficulties with colic?
It’s largely due to the fact they may be having difficulty chewing and swallowing and not being able to drink properly.