Keeping a senior horse healthy and active is much easier than in the past. Today’s advances in both health care and feed have horses staying healthier and more active into their golden years. Horses are living into their late twenties and early thirties without being in pain and are still able to hit the trail with you.
As horse owners know, one year of a horse’s life is equal to three years of a human’s life. By giving your horse proper care and food, they can live full and healthy lives. Let’s look at 4 tips to keep your senior horse, happy, healthy and active:
1. Dental Care
It is vital to your horse’s health that they receive regular dental care. As horses age, sharp points can develop on their molars making chewing painful and difficult. Older horses should have a dental checkup every 6 to 12 months.
Remember to pay attention to your horse as he eats. If your horse is dropping a lot of his food, it could be a sign of dental issues. Also, check your horse's manure for excessive amounts of grain or hay that is unchewed. These are signs your horse is not able to chew properly.
As your horse ages, they have decreased digestive efficiency. They now require food that is of the highest quality. Today, there are many highly nutritious feeds for senior horses. You need to find a feed that offers “complete nutrition,” which means that the feed includes hay as well as other concentrates.
Vets also highly recommend that you add corn oil to a senior horse’s diet. Corn oil will help improve your senior horse’s energy level and shine.
3. Arthritis and Joint Care
Joint supplements can help your senior horse move around more comfortably thus keeping him active. Both Glucosamine and Chondroitin, which are over the counter supplements, can be very helpful to seniors. You will have to give the supplements to them for at least one month before any changes can be seen.
Another option is Legend, an intravenous injection of hyaluronic acid. Dramatic differences in flexibility have been seen in senior horses using Legend.
4. Maintain Their Activity Level
It is very important to keep your senior horse active. If you cannot ride your senior horse then be sure that they are kept in a situation where they have plenty of room to move and flex. Confine them to a stall as little as possible. Movement helps increase your horse’s circulation as well as improving digestion and keeping them happier.
If it is possible to still ride your senior horse, be sure to spend more time warming them up and cooling them down. Stop the “strenuous” rides and keep things leisurely.
Remember that your senior horse has given you the best years of his life and you can now reward them by being sure that their senior years are the best that they can be.
Photo via Flickr.
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