Aged/Senior/Old Horses ~ Health and Welfare

Original drawing “Two Old Horses Standing in a Field” by John Sell Cottman (1782 – 1842)

One of the leading causes of suffering for aged horses (even, sadly, some in otherwise loving homes), is the myth that “horses get skinny when they’re old”.

If a horse drops body condition as it ages, effort should be made to find out the reason behind it. Some common reasons include tooth problems such as loss of teeth due to age, a decrease in the horse’s ability to absorb nutrients from feed (requiring a change in diet), damage from internal parasites and many potential underlying health problems, including chronic pain, that require a veterinary diagnosis and treatment. Find out more about these in the links below.

As a minimum, older horses need:

  • A good quality diet, appropriately balanced for the requirements of older horses, that is easy to chew and digest
  • Regular dental check-ups (once a year minimum, or more often if your vet or dentist advises)
  • Veterinary care to diagnose and treat illnesses and chronic pain
  • A good worm control regime
  • Regular hoof care, grooming, and all the other basic care provided to horses of all ages

These is only a basic summary, for more detailed information please read the excellent articles at the following links:

“Aged does not = skinny” by Quest Equine Welfare Inc

“Care of the older horse” articles on care, nutrition, wintering, surgery and more by Living Legends (retirement home for champion racehorses)

(More coming soon… if you know of a great link on horse care for older horses, please let us know!)

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