Caring for Your Senior Horse

2 Jan 2014 4:35 PM -

I was talking with a friend recently and they have decided to finally retire their old friend - 'Harold' the horse.

When she explained to me that he was about 32, my jaw dropped. I couldn't believe that he was still doing so well for that age.
With the average horse living between 25 - 30 years of age, her old fella must be in a good paddock....

The life expectancy of horses has increased, largely because we take better care of them.

For your senior friend it is important that the horse be comfortable and enjoy its retirement.

With any horse they should have their teeth checked every 6 months and full vet check-up should be done every 6 to 12 months. 

If the horse has broken or not many teeth provide its meals as a soft mash for easier chewing as well as good quality chaff. Hay might be too hard to chew or the horse might choke on it, so the hay might need to be dampen to soften it, or chopped like chaff. Dampening the hay also reduces dust which could cause respiratory problems for your horse. Senior horses quite often get bullied by the youngsters at feed time. One should ensure that the senior horse is able to eat in peace and all its meals.

A full blood test is not expensive and will help you understand how to care for your old companion. It will show many abnormalities and your veterinarian will be able to help you find appropriate treatment.

In case of arthritis, horses experiencing pain from may require analgesics, but treatment should be under the advice of a veterinarian. Various different non-steroidal medications may be used apart from medication to make the horse more comfortable.  

In an ideal situation a single paddock with adequate feed for your senior horse is ideal.  Here is a checklist to consider;

  1. Provide shelter
  2. Check hydration
  3. Provide adequate feed
  4. Provide hoof care
  5. Vaccinate with care
  6. Deworm frequently
  7. Check his teeth

I hope this general information will help you keep your equine senior fit and happy.

Remember always seek advice from your veterinarian.