It is not uncommon in today’s equine world to find horses well over the age of 20 still in competition.
Like humans, horses are living longer than ever, which may be attributed to improved diet, better medicine, and a deeper understanding of equine science.
If your horse isn’t quite ready to swap his boots for slippers and a pipe, here are 7 top tips to help you keep him on the competitive road.
A huge priority when looking after the older horse is his condition. Veterans are very susceptible to dropping or gaining weight rapidly. Both can be early signs of ill health. Changes in condition can be easily monitored using a weightape or body condition score chart when done on a regular basis. Older horses are prone to losing weight because their digestive system becomes less efficient with age. There are veteran mixes and cubes designed to meet these needs on the market. He will also benefit from a high fibre diet, and the adage ‘little and often’ when it comes to feeding remains true.
A joint supplement, added to your veteran’s daily feed, may help to keep his joints in good condition. Vetroflex Senior from Animalife is a proprietary blend of nutrients designed not only to provide support to the musculoskeletal system but also to the respiratory, immune and digestive systems of the older horse, together with added nutrients to help maintain body condition. Vetroflex Senior provides targeted amino acids and antioxidants to help support healthy joint cartilage and connective tissues. Vetroflex Senior also provides a wide range of antioxidants, particularly beneficial when if the respiratory system requires some additional support as the horse ages. It also includes biotin, methionine and zinc for the correct formation and repair of hooves, along with immune support via the FOS and antioxidants. The ingredients in Vetroflex Senior work together to provide additional support to the horse’s own natural immune defenses.
The deteriorating nature of the teeth of an older horse can have a detrimental effect on the overall health and wellbeing of your veteran.
It is recommended that you get his teeth checked on a six monthly basis by an equine dental technician. Once horses reach the age of 20 their teeth cease to grow and gaps can begin to appear.
Older horses may also lose the ability to grind their food with age. Therefore, it may be necessary to alter their diet to incorporate soaked feed. If this includes soaked fibre, make sure you soak it fresh each day to prevent it going off.
Signs of dental problems can include quidding, food pocketing, taking longer to finish his meal, bad breath and refusal to drink cold water/feed.
4. Keep things active
When working your horse, make sure you are riding him correctly to help prolong his career. Keep him on the move as much as you can to help prevent stiffness and work on exercises that promote softness and suppleness to support the ageing body. Turn out in the field as much as you can and give him a good amount of time to warm up and cool off after exercise.
5. Look out for dust
If your veteran spends any time in the stable, ensure it is well ventilated and as dust-free as possible. Older horses can be particularly susceptible to dust allergies so look out for poor quality hay and choose the right equestrian bedding.
6. Don’t forget his feet
Or his legs for that matter. As they say, no foot, no horse so keeping your veteran’s feet in tip top condition (as you would any other horse, veteran or otherwise) is essential. It is also worth reviewing your post exercise leg care strategy to ensure longevity.
Your horse will usually ‘tell you’ when he is ready to slow down in life, so listen to him and pay attention to his performance and condition.
To find out more about Vetroflex Senior click here. You can also read more information about the other Lifestages available to help your horse via the range of Animalife products; Growing, Healthy and Intense, which are designed to aid your horse through the different challenges they will face through life.