The average horse will live for around 20 years although there have been a few known to live as long as 30 years. As they age, horses’ behaviours can change – just like humans – so it is important to remember that they may need extra care and attention.
Feeding your elderly horse
The older the horse, the higher quality food it will need. Older equines demand increased nutrients as they age and therefore their pasture environment needs to be enhanced.
There are a number of feeds available that have these essential nutrients added to ensure the health of your older horse but if you are unsure which one would best suit your requirements and benefit your horse’s health then you should check with your veterinarian.
You may also need to purchase a multi vitamin supplement to give to your horse – especially if they start to suffer from a particular deficiency as they age.
Also, if the environment of the pasture is not ideal then you must ensure your horse is being fed hay. The hay you choose must be of high quality and free of dust and mould. A good supply of clean water should also be readily available at all times.
Teeth and feet
Feeding isn’t the only change your horse will go through as they get older and it is vital that you ensure regular check-ups are made on the teeth.
A visit from your vet once or twice a year will be more than enough to keep the teeth of your horse in perfect condition and they can also check that no sharp enamel edges or overgrowths are appearing – both features which can cause difficulty eating and affect your older horse’s nutrition and health.
The feet of the horse should also be kept trimmed, even if the horse isn’t being exercised.
This will make it easier for them to move about whilst also ensuring no growths develop on the hoofs. Growths can be extremely painful for the horse so it’s important to keep on top of these health checks.
Diseases affecting the older horse
Just like humans, older horses are more likely to develop certain illnesses and diseases so you need to be vigilant against this too.
The older the horse, the more likely they are to suffer from tumours, hormonal conditions, degenerative diseases and liver disease. Whilst this can seem quite scary, many older horses continue to live a happy and content life even with such ailments.
In order to monitor their health, you should pay particular attention to their appetite, attitude and response to both their owners and their environment. If their behaviour changes in any way then this could indicate poor or deteriorating health and should be brought to the attention of a vet immediately.
You should also ensure that a periodic blood test is taken by your local vet in order to check for any common disease. As your horse becomes older they are more likely to become affected by infections or parasites too so regular vaccinations are another necessity.
Remember that age can have a negative impact on animals just as much as it can on people – follow the tips above to ensure your horse stays happy and healthy throughout their old age.