Caring For Older Horses: Common Problems And Solutions

Caring For Older Horses: Common Problems And Solutions

Horses need more specialised care as they get older to stay healthy and content. It's important to be aware of these potential issues so you can prevent or address them because older horses are more prone to certain health problems than younger horses. For example, joint care supplements can assist with typical point issues found in older horses.

In today's blog post, we'll go over some of the most typical health problems older horses deal with, along with some ways to keep them happy and healthy. This advice will enable you to provide your elderly equine friend with the best possible care, regardless of whether you have a retired companion or a senior competition horse.

Common Health Issues In Older Horses

Horses' susceptibility to a range of health issues that may lower their quality of life increases with age. To ensure that your older horse stays healthy and comfortable, it's crucial to regularly check on their well-being and take care of any problems as soon as they arise. The following are a few of the most typical health issues that older horses may experience:

  • Dental issues - Older horses may develop dental problems such as missing or loose teeth, gum disease, or tooth decay. This can lead to difficulty eating and weight loss.
  • Joint problems - Arthritis is a common problem in older horses, which can cause stiffness and pain, especially in the joints of the legs.
  • Digestive problems - Older horses may have reduced digestive efficiency, leading to issues such as colic, ulcers, or diarrhoea.
  • Respiratory problems - Horses may develop respiratory health issues such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) as they age, which can affect their breathing and performance.
  • Skin problems - Older horses may be more prone to skin problems such as dermatitis, sarcoids, or melanomas.

Solutions For Common Problems

Solutions for common health problems in older horses can vary depending on the specific issue, but there are some general strategies that can help improve their overall wellbeing. Here are a few solutions for some of the most common health problems that affect older horses:

  • Arthritis: Arthritis is a common problem in older horses and can cause pain and stiffness, especially in the joints. One solution is to provide a soft, comfortable bed and avoid hard surfaces. It is also recommended to provide joint supplements and regular exercise, such as light turnout or gentle riding, to help keep the joints lubricated.
  • Dental Problems: As horses age, they may experience dental problems such as loose or missing teeth, gum disease, and other issues that can make eating difficult. One solution is to provide softer, more easily digestible feeds such as chopped hay or soaked beet pulp. It is also important to schedule regular dental checkups with an equine dentist.
  • Weight Management: Older horses are prone to weight gain or loss, which can lead to other health problems. To manage weight, it is important to provide a balanced diet with appropriate levels of protein, fat, and fibre. Feeding smaller, more frequent meals can also help older horses maintain a healthy weight.
  • Lameness: Lameness can be caused by a variety of issues, including arthritis, injuries, or other underlying health problems. One solution is to provide proper footing in the pasture or stable, and to avoid hard surfaces. Regular exercise can also help improve overall fitness and reduce the risk of lameness.

Addressing these common health problems in older horses can help ensure that they remain healthy, happy, and comfortable in their later years. Regular veterinary checkups and consultations can also help identify and address any potential issues before they become more serious

Caring For Older Horses

General Care And Management For Older Horses

As horses age, they require extra care and attention to maintain their health and well-being. Here are some general care and management tips for older horses:

  • Regular veterinary check-ups: Older horses are more prone to health issues, so it's essential to schedule regular check-ups with your veterinarian. This can help detect any issues early on and prevent them from worsening.
  • Balanced nutrition: Older horses need a balanced diet with adequate levels of protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals to maintain their health. A diet with easily digestible fibre sources such as hay, soaked beet pulp or haylage, and low sugar/starch feeds can be beneficial for horses with dental issues or metabolic conditions.
  • Dental care: Regular dental check-ups and care are important for older horses. As they age, their teeth may become worn, and they may have difficulty chewing their food, leading to weight loss and poor nutrition. Your veterinarian or equine dental technician can advise on when to have your horse's teeth checked, and if needed, schedule regular dental checkups.
  • Regular exercise: Exercise helps keep older horses fit and supple. However, it's important to consider their age and physical condition and tailor their exercise accordingly.
  • Stable environment: Older horses may have difficulty regulating their body temperature, so it's essential to ensure they have a comfortable stable environment. This may include providing extra bedding, maintaining a consistent temperature and avoiding drafty areas.
  • Attention to hoof care: Regular hoof care is important for all horses, but especially for older horses, as they may have weakened hoof walls or issues with their feet. It's essential to maintain regular trimming and, if needed, consult with your farrier or veterinarian for any additional treatment.
  • Watch for signs of stress: Older horses may be more prone to stress, and it's important to monitor them for signs of stress, including changes in behaviour, appetite, or body condition. Ensuring they are comfortable and not overworked can help reduce stress levels.

Final Thoughts

Caring for older horses requires a bit more attention and effort, but it can also be a rewarding experience. By understanding the common health problems, their solutions, and general care and management practices, you can ensure that your older horse stays healthy and happy in their later years.

If you're looking for high-quality supplements and care products for your senior horse, Equine America NZ has a wide range of options to suit your needs. Don't hesitate to reach out to them and give your older horse the best care possible.

Please give us a call at Equine America NZ today at 0800 440 888 to learn more or leave an enquiry.