Senior Horse Strategies
Use these suggestions to keep your senior horse healthy and happy.
April 8, 2009
From America's Horse
If you have a special senior horse in your life, you may have noticed he needs different care from the other young buckaroos. Senior horse management doesn't have to be tough. Follow these tips to stay one step ahead of father time.
- Provide a safe, comfortable environment, free of hazards and with adequate shelter from wind, rain, snow, sun and biting insects.
- Arrange for routine dental care at least once a year to keep the teeth and mouth in good working order.
- Observe your horse on a regular basis. Watch for changes in body condition, behavior and attitude. Address problems, even seemingly minor ones, right away.
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- Feed a high-quality diet. Avoid dusty and moldy feeds.
- Feed your older horse away from younger, more aggressive horses so he won't have to compete for feed.
- For troubled chewers, wet the feed to soften it or add enough water to make a thick, soup-like ration that he can drink.
- Feed at more frequent intervals so as not to upset the digestive system. Two or three times a day is best.
- Provide plenty of fresh, clean, tepid water. Excessively cold water reduces consumption, which can lead to colic and other problems.
- Adjust rations to maintain proper body condition. A good rule of thumb is to be able to feel the ribs, but not see them.
- Provide adequate, appropriate exercise to maintain muscle tone, flexibility and mobility.
- Be vigilant in controlling pests and parasites. Deworm at regular intervals. Consult your veterinarian to establish a schedule.
- Manage pastures and facilities to reduce pest infestations.
- Provide regular hoof care. Your farrier should trim or shoe the horse, whether or not you ride, to maintain proper hoof shape and movement. This will help prevent lameness and injury.
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- Groom your horse frequently to promote circulation and skin health.
- Be aware that older horses are prone to tumors. Look for any unusual lumps or growths from head to tail, as well as beneath the tail, especially on gray horses.
- Provide adequate ventilation in barns. Keep pastures mowed and weed-free to reduce allergens. Reduce dust in paddocks as much as possible to prevent respiratory disease.
- Schedule routine checkups with your veterinarian. Call immediately if you suspect a problem.
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