Senior Horse Care Do’s & Don’ts

Advancing age doesn’t necessarily mean that your horse needs more or specialized care. Nonetheless, as the years pass, seemingly small management shortcomings can have an increasingly significant impact on his health. To help you focus on what you can do—and need to avoid—to keep your senior horse healthy and happy, we’ve compiled this handy list of do’s and don’ts.

Senior horse care
Good management can help a horse stay active and healthy as the years pass. (Getty Images)
Management

• DO—make sure your horse has dental exams twice a year.

• DON’T—add concentrates to your horse’s feed ration until you’ve ruled out other reasons for weight loss. On the contrary, you’ll first want to investigate before making any changes to his ration.

• DON’T—add concentrates to your horse’s feed ration until you’ve ruled out other reasons for weight loss. On the contrary, you’ll first want to investigate before making any changes to his ration.

• DO—practice good parasite control, including manure removal and monitoring of your senior horse’s parasite burden through fecal egg counts.

Veterinary Care

• DO—follow your veterinarian’s recommendations for vaccinations to prevent disease.

• DON’T—forget that your older horse has a higher risk for Cushing’s disease. Call your veterinarian if you notice your horse is not shedding out, has excessive thirst or sweat.

• DO—monitor your horse’s condition and weight using the Henneke body condition scoring chart, a weight tape and your veterinarian’s assessment.

• DO—provide safe turnout with adequate shelter from the elements. Also make sure he has protection from biting flies and bullying herdmates.

Training and conditioning

• DON’T—wait to address signs of lameness, which could indicate early onset of arthritis or other musculoskeletal problems.

• DO—give your horse more time to warm-up and cooldown. 

• DON’T—retire your horse just because he has reached a certain age. On the contrary, regular exercise is essential for his physical and mental well-being.

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