The typical age range of a domestic horse is between 25-30 years. The breed of the horse and the life it has had can affect this. Like people, they all age differently.
Common Ailments In Older Horses
Some of the more common issues older horses suffer with are joint problems (including arthritis) weight problems and teeth problems. It is important to always check for any changes in the horses behaviour as when horses get older medical issues become more likely.
Feeding Older Horses
It is important to maintain a high fibre diet. Horses spend over 17 hours a day grazing so if they have issues eating or are stabled often, their fibre content within their diet must be supplemented. Always feed according to the individual horse. As stated earlier, they are all different and age doesn’t always reflect a certain diet. Some struggle to keep weight on especially in the winter months, meaning increased food through these months. Others are overweight so diet restrictions are needed, while still allowing the horses to get the correct nutrients.
We have an older horse here that has Cushions Disease and trying to reduce her weight is very tricky. A diet high in fibre and low in sugar and starch is preferred as is more natural. We also have some horses that have poor or broken teeth, their food is always wet and consists of easy palatable items. Hay is provided either on the floor loose or in large holed hay nets as they need it to be easy to eat.
Any horses that have any joint issues or arthritis have some COD LIVER OILS put in their feed. This is good for their joints, just like it is in people. Others who suffer more seriously often have recommended additional nutrients or medication prescribed by the vet.
Looking After Older Horses Teeth
All of our horses have a teeth check by the vet every year. A rasp of sharp back teeth is carried out on all horses that need it. Often a key sign of problems in their mouth is that they drop their food and appear to struggle when eating. Teeth that are not maintained properly can become broken and then may lead to infections within the mouth or up to their sinuses.
Above is a picture of Twix, one of our elderly horses, as you can see her teeth are worn down at the front. We make sure that we water down her food so that it’s a soft, gloopy consistency. When she is stabled we are able to see exactly how much she is eating. We find that with the older horses we have it’s better for them to graze on flatter pasture rather than hilly and also to make sure that they have turn out time all year round so that their joints don’t stiffen up in a stable for long periods.