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Older Horses Articles

Older Horses Articles

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Published by S. Bala Dahiya
American Association of Equine Practitioners
American Association of Equine Practitioners

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Published by: S. Bala Dahiya on Jul 20, 2014
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07/20/2014

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Older Horse: Special Care & Nutrition
Special Care and Nutrition
$ue to i%proe%ents in nutrition' %anage%ent and health care' horses are liing longer' %ore use(ul lies) It*s not unco%%on to (ind horses and ponies liing +ell into their ,!*s and een -!*s) "hile genetics play a deter%ining role in longeity' you too' can hae an i%pact) .y proiding proper care and nutrition' you can help %a/e your horse*s golden years happier and %ore productie)
THE AGING PROCESS
Ti%e does ta/e its toll on %any 0ody syste%s) The horse*s digestie tract isn*t as e((icient as it once +as) .ones and 1oints are less resilient) 2lderly horses %ay (eel the aches and pains o( arthritis) The i%%une syste% is less relia0le' %a/ing older horses %ore suscepti0le to illness and slo+er to recoer (ro% 0oth disease and in1ury) 3arasite in(estations also ta/e a heay toll) Aged horses are %ore prone to respiratory' eye and dental pro0le%s) 2lderly ani%als are also less a0leto cope +ith eniron%ental stresses' such as +ind' +et and cold) Additionally' hor%onal changes %ay a((ect oerall 0ody condition' hair gro+th' appetite and energy leels) .ut +hile so%e signs o( decline %ay 0e directly related to the aging process' others %ay hae an underlying %edical pro0le%' so 0e sure to consult +ith your eterinarian)
SPECIAL NUTRITIONAL NEEDS
"hile eery (acet o( horse health care is i%portant' proper nutrition is ital) As horses age' their digestie syste%s 0eco%e less e((icient) Hor%onal and %eta0olic changes a((ect or inter(ere +ith their a0ility to digest' a0sor0 and utilize essential nutrients in their (eed' especially protein' phosphorus and (i0er) For these reasons' %any older horses 0ene(it (ro% co%plete rations +ith 0uilt4in roughage that are specially (or%ulated to co%pensate (or changes in their digestie physiology)"hen selecting (eeds' ealuate your choices 0y the (ollo+ing criteria) The senior diet should 0e:
Highly palata0le
2asy to che+ and s+allo+
Clean and dust4(ree to preent or lessen the i%pact o( allergies or lung disease
3roide ,456 protein
Contain enough high47uality (i0er to aid digestion
3roide essential %inerals' including calciu% and phosphorus in the proper ratio
Include all essential ita%ins' especially ita%in C and .4co%ple8 ita%ins
3roide enough readily aaila0le energy to %aintain proper 0ody condition
Include ade7uate' palata0le (at (ro% a egeta0le source to pro%ote healthy s/in and hair'aid digestion and 0oost energy inta/e
DENTAL CARE
 A horse that can che+ its (eed properly +ill +aste less o( it' get %ore nutrient alue (ro% it and 0e less li/ely to cho/e or colic) Hae your eterinarian e8a%ine and (loat 9(ile your horse*s teeth at least once a year 44 t+ice annually i( the horse is oer ,!) This +ill /eep his nipping and grinding
 
sur(aces in good +or/ing order) It also gies the eterinarian a chance to trou0leshoot (or 0ro/en or lost teeth' and chec/ (or tongue' gu% or other pro0le%s)
A TOTAL ANAGEENT PLAN
#ou %ay thin/ that turning your old ti%er out to pasture is the /indest (or% o( retire%ent) .ut horses are indiiduals) So%e en1oy 0eing idle; others pre(er to 0e a part o( the action)"hateer you do' don*t a0andon the horse) 3roper nutrition' care and e8ercise +ill help the ani%al thrie) $eelop a total %anage%ent plan (or your senior citizen) <eep in %ind the (ollo+ingguidelines:
3roide a sa(e' co%(orta0le eniron%ent' (ree o( hazards and +ith ade7uate shelter (ro% +ind' rain' sno+' sun and 0iting insects)
 Arrange (or routine dental care to /eep the teeth and %outh in good +or/ing order; at least once per year is reco%%ended)
O0sere your horse on a regular 0asis) "atch (or changes in 0ody condition' 0ehaior and attitude) Address pro0le%s' een see%ingly %inor ones' right a+ay)
Feed a high47uality diet) Aoid dusty and %oldy (eeds)
Feed your older horse a+ay (ro% younger' %ore aggressie ones so it +on*t hae to co%pete (or (eed)
For trou0led che+ers' +et the (eed to so(ten it or add enough +ater to %a/e a =slurry'= a thic/' soup4li/e ration that the horse can drin/) Many horses that hae trou0le /eeping on +eight can 0e (ed a 0ran %ash that %ay assist the% in digesting the (orage co%ponent o( their diet)
Feed at %ore (re7uent interals so as not to upset the digestie syste%; ,4- ti%es daily is0est)
3roide plenty o( (resh' clean' tepid +ater) 28cessiely cold +ater reduces consu%ption +hich can lead to colic and other pro0le%s)
 Ad1ust and 0alance rations to %aintain proper 0ody conditions) A good rule o( thu%0 is to 0e a0le to (eel the ri0s 0ut not see the%)
3roide ade7uate' appropriate e8ercise to %aintain %uscle tone' (le8i0ility and %o0ility)
.e igilant in controlling pests and parasites) $e+or% at regular interals 9consult your eterinarian to esta0lish a schedule)
Manage pastures and (acilities to reduce in(estations)
3roide regular hoo( care) #our (arrier should tri% or shoe the horse +hether or not you ride to %aintain proper hoo( shape and %oe%ent) This +ill help preent la%eness and in1uries)
Groo% your horse (re7uently to pro%ote circulation and s/in health)
.e a+are that older horses are prone to tu%ors) >oo/ (or any unusual lu%ps or gro+ths (ro% head to tail as +ell as 0eneath the tail 9especially on gray horses)
3roide ade7uate entilation in 0arns) <eep pastures %o+n and +eed4(ree to reduce allergens) ?educe dust in paddoc/s as %uch as possi0le to preent respiratory distress)
Schedule routine chec/ups +ith your eterinarian) Call i%%ediately i( you suspect a pro0le%)
HEALTH CARE PARTNERSHIP
"hile there is %uch you can do to /eep your older horse healthy and spry' so%e conditions associated +ith aging re7uire %edical interention) #our e7uine practitioner can identi(y and treat such things as tu%ors' hor%one i%0alances' renal disease' Cushing*s syndro%e' arthritis'

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