Older horses now form a large part of the equine population. As horses age, some body systems start to wear out. Going into winter, the veteran requires extra care.

Problems of the Older Horse

Poor gut function - decrease in digestion of protein, phosphorous, fibre and some vitamins

Arthritis - decreased movement, muscle loss, pain and decreased feed intake

 

Xray of bone spavin - arthritic hock joint

Xray of bone spavin - arthritic hock joint

Poor hair coat - may use up to 30% more energy to keep warm

Inadequate dental function - teeth loose, missing, overgrown / sharp or simply worn out (smooth) (see our Dentistry information sheet)

Crooked incisors (L) and fractured teeth (R)

Crooked incisors (L) and fractured teeth (R)

Reduced immunity - more susceptible to disease, especially in horses suffering Cushing’s disease (see our Cushing's Information sheet) - a hormone imbalance resulting in long / curly coat, laminitis, weight loss, excessive thirst / urination, patchy sweating

Cushingnoid veteran pony

Cushingnoid veteran pony

Prone to cancer, liver and kidney disease

Increased healing times for wounds, lesions etc.

Solutions for the Veteran Horse

Adjust feeding - veteran feeds have increased palatability and digestibility. Use feed company free helplines. Use hay substitutes to compensate for reduced roughage intake and reduced gut function e.g. high-fibre cubes, alfalfa etc., probiotics?

Anti-Arthritic drugs, veterinary examination, gentle exercise/ handwalking, joint supplements, regular farrier visits, physiotherapy and alternative therapies eg McTimoney  - can all improve the lifestyle of an arthritic horse.

'Sterling' - a successful veteran

'Sterling' - a successful veteran

Provide shelter and good quality rugs – modern rugs are lightweight and breathable

Regular dental checks (6-12 monthly)  - help ensure adequate food intake and digestion

Maintain vaccination protocols and adopt a comprehensive worming programme

Injuries - check ligament (L), respiratory difficulty (M), and eye disorders- cloudy (R)

Injuries - check ligament (L), respiratory difficulty (M), and eye disorders- cloudy (R)

Seek veterinary advice/treat any underlying conditions - eg. prescription only drugs are available to help control Cushing’s disease

Consider blood tests to identify problems and form a treatment plan

 

LOOK OUT FOR OUR GREAT VALUE 'VETERAN HEALTH CHECKS' IN THE WINTER, OFFERING A COMPREHENSIVE ASSESSMENT OF THE OLDER HORSE AT A MASSIVELY DISCOUNTED PRICE