Older horses now form a large part of the equine population. As horses age, some body systems start to wear out. Going into winter, the veteran requires extra care.
Problems of the Older Horse
Poor gut function - decrease in digestion of protein, phosphorous, fibre and some vitamins
Arthritis - decreased movement, muscle loss, pain and decreased feed intake
Poor hair coat - may use up to 30% more energy to keep warm
Inadequate dental function - teeth loose, missing, overgrown / sharp or simply worn out (smooth) (see our Dentistry information sheet)
Reduced immunity - more susceptible to disease, especially in horses suffering Cushing’s disease (see our Cushing's Information sheet) - a hormone imbalance resulting in long / curly coat, laminitis, weight loss, excessive thirst / urination, patchy sweating
Prone to cancer, liver and kidney disease
Increased healing times for wounds, lesions etc.
Solutions for the Veteran Horse
Adjust feeding - veteran feeds have increased palatability and digestibility. Use feed company free helplines. Use hay substitutes to compensate for reduced roughage intake and reduced gut function e.g. high-fibre cubes, alfalfa etc., probiotics?
Anti-Arthritic drugs, veterinary examination, gentle exercise/ handwalking, joint supplements, regular farrier visits, physiotherapy and alternative therapies eg McTimoney - can all improve the lifestyle of an arthritic horse.
Provide shelter and good quality rugs – modern rugs are lightweight and breathable
Regular dental checks (6-12 monthly) - help ensure adequate food intake and digestion
Maintain vaccination protocols and adopt a comprehensive worming programme
Seek veterinary advice/treat any underlying conditions - eg. prescription only drugs are available to help control Cushing’s disease
Consider blood tests to identify problems and form a treatment plan
LOOK OUT FOR OUR GREAT VALUE 'VETERAN HEALTH CHECKS' IN THE WINTER, OFFERING A COMPREHENSIVE ASSESSMENT OF THE OLDER HORSE AT A MASSIVELY DISCOUNTED PRICE