Much like humans, all horses age at different rates. Some are still very active in their late 20’s, while others have been retired much sooner than that. One of the reasons for this is that some horses maintain condition and muscle mass better. Once your horse hits the mid to late teen range, it is already considered a senior. Do you know the signs to look for in an aging horse? Or what food and nutrients you need to give them? The first step to caring for your senior horse is by being able to identify the signs of aging.
Sign Of Aging In Horses
As time goes on, your horse's body develops various changes. Usually, the most common sign of aging is the horse's inability to maintain its normal weight. Horses tend to gradually lose muscle mass over time. Another noticeable change is in your horse's coat. If you notice the previously shiny, lustrous coat suddenly become dull and unhealthy, this could be a sign of metabolic concern. Another common trait in aging horses is the wearing down of the teeth. Wearing teeth can affect the horse's ability to chew, which can lead to digestion issues. There are also several feeding concerns to be taken into account for senior horses.
What to Feed Your Senior Horse
The first change you’ll want to make in your horse's diet is switching their feed over to a senior feed which is designed to meet the dietary needs of older horses. These feeds were developed to provide a nutrient source for horses that have issues eating long-stem forage and reduced digestive function. Senior feeds provide easily digested nutrients and contain 12-14% crude protein, 5-10% fat content, and 16-18% fiber content.
In addition, due to wearing down of the teeth, some horses have trouble chewing and breaking down hay. Experts suggest grass-legume hay alternatives for horses with diagnosed medical concerns. Examples of these alternatives include orchard alfalfa or timothy alfalfa. It is also suggested to soak the cubes in warm water to create a mash, which makes them easier to break down. Adding water will also help add more hydration to their diet which helps reduce digestive upsets.
Depending on your horse's concerns and needs, there are several supplements your horse might need including joint support, weight gainers, vitamins, and minerals. Joint supplements will help with pain from arthritis or stiff joints which is also common in aging horses. A great option is Comfort Quik. It contains a 20 ingredient blend that is proven to help multiple horses in trials. It is also the only horse joint supplement with Epoxogen complex. You’ll get results in only 14-21 days! Another supplement to aid your senior is weight gainers. These will help your horse maintain a healthy weight and keep them from dropping too much weight too quickly. The last supplements are vitamins and minerals. Some vitamins your horse needs include A, B, D and E. Vitamin B is important for energy and metabolism, production of red blood cells and maintenance of appetite. Vitamin E is important for neurological issues, muscle soreness, and poor immunity which is common in senior horses. It also aids in helping with liver problems, eye disorders and dull, dry or damaged skin/coat. The highest potency Vitamin E supplement for horses in the country at over 16,000 IU/oz. is our very own Health-E! It contains all 8 forms of alpha tocopherol which doctors recommend in Vitamin E supplements.
Let Equine Medical and Surgical Answer Your Questions!
Our job is to help keep your aging horse healthy so you can enjoy your special time together. Dr. Reilly has been a veterinarian with 32 years of experience and is dedicated to helping educate the owner and helping your horse improve.
At Equine Medical and Surgical, we have a full line of products to help you care for your horse! From supplements to topical sprays, we have a one-stop-shop for all your equine care needs! To check them out click here.