Maintaining the Senior Horse’s Health
As horses get older, their health can get a little touchy. Horses of all ages can be susceptible to colic, but senior horses are especially vulnerable. Other health conditions may rear their ugly heads as the horse ages as well. Your best bet to protect your horse is to have a plan as he enters his senior years. From vet checkups to senior horse feed, here is everything you need to know about keeping your senior horse fit and healthy.
Get Regular Vet Checkups and Preventative Care
As your horse gets older, it’s more important than ever to stick to a schedule of vet checkups and routine care. For most horses, this means the vet should set eyes on him at least once a year, if not twice, since the Rhino flu vaccine only lasts 6 months before needing to be administered again. As your horse gets older, his mouth may need attention more often, both for routine floats as well as other dental care, such as removing broken teeth. At first you’ll want to maintain the same vaccination schedule as usual, especially if your horse travels or trail rides a lot, but as he gets up there in years and travels less, your vet may recommend only vaccinating for the minimum.
Monitor Your Horse’s Weight Closely
Often the first sign of trouble with an older horse is gaining or losing a lot of weight, so you’ll want to monitor your horse’s weight closely as he gets older. Keep him on a regular diet so you can manage his weight precisely and monitor any changes closely. It’s important for senior horses to stay at a healthy weight, neither too skinny nor too fat. Weight loss may be a sign of another health issue, while unexplained weight gain could be due to a metabolic disease. If you notice changes that can’t be explained by diet, or that aren’t easily reversed by changing your horse’s diet, call your vet in to make sure that there is not an underlying issue causing the weight gain or loss.
Switch To a Senior Horse Feed
A horse’s nutritional needs change as he ages, plus senior horses with damaged or few teeth may find it difficult to chew. With these things in mind, there is senior horse feed, specially formulated for older horses. Senior horse feed is typically easier to chew and can be fed soaked to make it even easier. It also has a guaranteed nutritional content to provide your older horse everything his body needs to stay healthy.
Provide Regular Exercise and Activity
When we say to provide regular exercise and activity, we don’t mean you have to practice flying changes or gallop around the race track every day. Older horses may not be able to sustain faster gaits for long, and may even have a weight limit as to how large a rider they can carry. But just like people, old horses don’t thrive if they do nothing all day long. Discuss with your vet how much activity your horse can tolerate, and then make sure you give it to him, whether it’s light riding a few times a week or a long walk on the lead line like a dog. Physical exercise is good for maintaining muscle tone and physical fitness, of course, but mental stimulation is also important for keeping your horse challenged and alert.
Only you and your bond with your horse can help keep him happy in his later years, but you have an entire team to help support his physical health: your vet, farrier, and of course, your feed provider. Contact Sacate Pellet Mills today to find out more about how a good senior horse feed can establish the foundation for many more happy years.