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How To Care For The Aged Horse

Author : Tammy Patterson

Submitted : 2010-07-02 16:19:44    Word Count : 541    Popularity:   135

Tags:   horse, animal, pet, equestrian, shoe, welfare, care

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When looking after an older horse it is important to pay careful consideration to factors related to age. The main areas affected by aging are the musculoskeletal system; depending on the career the horse has had this can include stretching of the postural ligaments, weakening of the thoraco lumbar area of the back leading to a hollow back, and a breaking back of the hoof/pastern axis to name a few.

The teeth need regular care and attention as they can be affected by a variety of disorders with age. Older horses tend to have diminished immunity and a susceptibility to developing pituitary tumours leading to Cushings Disease. Deterioration of vision is also common in old age. In general there tends to be progressive deterioration in locomotor activity, degenerative joint disease, and metabolism.

When considering the management of the older horse it is important to consider all of these factors. Even if the horse is no longer in work they should still be looked after. Their feet should be kept trimmed and balanced, shoes are not essential but only if the feet are strong and hard enough to withstand the ground. They should also be picked out regularly to avoid bruised soles from stones.

The horse should have their teeth checked regularly; older horses tend to lose weight and condition and if they have problems with their teeth then this will be worsened as they will have trouble chewing and digesting food.
Often once a horse is no longer in work, less attention is paid to routine parasite control and pasture hygiene. It is extremely detrimental to let these slip as an infestation of worms will cause internal damage and an older horse could be less able to recover from this.

Supplementary nutrition is an important consideration and there are various feeding supplements available for the older horse. These provide essential vitamins and minerals and should be considered especially when keeping a horse on just grass or hay.

Often older horses will be able to continue gentle hacking once they have retired from the competitive field, as long as they are in good health. They can also be kept as companion animals however it is important to think about whether the horse would be happy to live like this. For example a competition horse that has been stabled and worked all its life may find it difficult to adjust to life in the field. Sometimes it is kinder to the horse to call it a day and their welfare and happiness should always come first.

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Tammy is a passionate equine rider who trys to promote the correct ways to be treating horses. Tammy works part time for a company who specialise in pippa funnell equestrian wear as well as Net-Text & Polly Equestrian Products in the UK. For more info, read our Equestrian articles

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