With a sound nutritional program, many horses can enjoy normal activities and even competition well into their senior years. Older horses need support in three key areas:
1. Joint Support
Senior horses may lose mobility due to stiffness and soreness. A joint supplement can support the health of your senior horse's joints and help fight the inflammation that causes day-to-day discomfort.
2. Weight Maintenance and Digestive Support
If your senior horse is losing weight, help support his body condition with supplements that contain probiotics and prebiotics for proper digestion, as well as healthy fats and amino acids to help weight gain and muscle tone.
3. Antioxidants and Immune Support
As horses age, many need supplemental antioxidants like Vitamin C and Vitamin E, along with other ingredients that support tissue and immune health.
What is it?
As horses age, their bodies begin to function less efficiently. Their skin becomes less resilient, their digestive tract doesn't break down and absorb things as well, and their immune response begins to decline. In addition, senior horses may begin to slow down because of stiffness and soreness.
What can be done about it?
When a horse starts to show signs of age-no matter if he's 10, 15 or 20 years old-it's time to adjust his nutrition, preventive care and management to compensate. Feed high-quality hay until he can no longer chew it then switch to soaked hay cubes, pellets, chaff or some other form of forage. Make sure his protein, vitamin and mineral needs are met with a complete feed, fortified grain, or multi-vitamin/mineral supplement. Consider adding extra B-vitamins and Vitamin C, as well as amino acids, probiotics and fat (especially if he needs to gain weight). Develop an appropriate vaccination, parasite, dental and hoof care program. Provide as much turnout as possible and continue to exercise the senior horse as long as he is comfortable and enjoys working.
What else do I need to know?
Some signs we may assume are due to aging are actually due to medical conditions such as Cushing's Disease, Recurrent Airway Obstruction ("heaves"), Laminitis and others. Every horse should be examined by a veterinarian at least once a year, but older horses may need to be seen more frequently and have specific tests done to detect problems sooner.