Winter Advisory for Senior Horse Owners
Years of traveling, training, and competing can really take a toll on joints, and cold weather and more time spent in his stall can often lead to stiffness and discomfort. To help keep your senior horse going strong, make sure he moves every day, whether it’s through daily turnout, hand-walking, and/or riding. For extra support, formulas like SmartStride® Senior Pellets and SmartFlex® Senior Pellets provide targeted ingredients to support healthy joints and help address the stiffness and discomfort associated with aging.
SmartStride™ Senior Pellets
SmartFlex® Senior Pellets
As horses get older, their bodies change and some of their systems may not work as well as they used to. While not all internal changes are visible to us externally, one noticeable area is your horse’s digestive health. A poorly functioning GI tract could show itself through loose stool and other digestive issues, particularly if your horse is undergoing common winter digestive stressors, like coming off pasture or getting a new cut of hay. If you’re concerned about your horse’s digestive health, be sure to talk to your veterinarian about what you’re seeing so you can get an accurate diagnosis and work together to develop a treatment and management plan to help keep your horse’s hindgut happy and healthy.
Depending on your horse’s needs, that plan may include supplements that provide probiotics, prebiotics, yeast, and enzymes, such as SmartDigest® Ultra Pellets, which can help support normal digestion and the proper absorption of nutrients. Another popular option for digestive support is EquiOtic™, which provides equine-sourced probiotics to help maintain a healthy, balanced hindgut.
SmartDigest® Ultra Pellets
EquiOtic™ Daily Packets
With their declining immunity, senior horses’ skin is especially susceptible to infections and other problems caused by harsh winter conditions. Using a blanket will help protect his skin from the weather, but keep in mind that skin problems such as rain rot can still occur under blankets, so it’s important to remove blankets for regular grooming. In addition, consider supporting your horse’s skin and coat health from the inside by adding a supplement like SmartOmega 3 & E™ Ultra to his supplement program.
SmartOmega 3 & E™ Ultra
Many senior horses may drop weight and lose muscle tone over the winter, so it’s important to monitor your horse’s body condition score regularly throughout the season. To make sure you have an accurate assessment of your horse’s weight, be sure to remove his blanket regularly and work your fingers through his coat to palpate or feel his body condition score. If you’re not sure how to evaluate your horse’s body condition, ask your veterinarian to show you during his next exam or visit SmartPak.com/BodyConditionQuiz to check out our body condition scoring tips.
Speaking of exams, you should also schedule a dental exam for your senior during their next veterinarian visit. It’s important to monitor your horse’s teeth all year round, and experts recommend seniors have a dental exam twice a year. It’s critical to ensure your senior’s teeth are in top shape now, because if he can’t chew properly, he’s not going to receive the full benefit of the food you’re providing. Unfortunately, that leads to wasted calories, wasted nutrients, and a less-than-ideal body condition score.
If you’re concerned about your horse’s weight – whether it’s now or during the winter – work with your veterinarian to develop the right management program for his unique needs. In addition to making sure he’s getting plenty of forage and calories, consider supporting a healthy body condition with supplement that provides extra calories from healthy fats and amino acids to support lean muscle development, such as SmartGain®.
Older horses are particularly prone to endocrine problems, which may cause delayed shedding, excessive drinking, poor muscle tone, and a decline in overall appearance. While it’s normal for your horse to grow a thick winter coat to keep himself warm, a long, curly hair coat that fails to shed in the spring could be a sign of a problem brewing inside your horse. If you’re concerned about your horse’s hair coat, schedule an appointment with your vet to chat about what you’re seeing and to develop an appropriate program for your horse. Along with prescription medication and proper management, that program may include support from the right supplement, like SmartPituitary Senior® Pellets. This comprehensive formula includes chasteberry for proper endocrine function, along with ingredients for immune system health, proper muscle development, and a healthy hair coat.
SmartPituitary Senior® Pellets
Older horses may have more trouble regulating their body temperature than they used to, so they can often benefit from the warmth and protection from the elements that blankets provide. That’s why even if you didn’t blanket your horse when he was younger, it may be a smart choice to start now. It’s never too soon to build your horse’s winter wardrobe (or too late to add to it!), and you can find all the right pieces at our Ultimate Destination for Blanketing and Clipping.
Ideal for seniors in light work
SmartCombo™ Senior Pellets
Our highest level of senior support
SmartCombo™ Senior Ultra Pellets