The Senior Horse

The Senior Horse

The Senior Horse

It is believed that 1-year of a horse's life is equal to an average of 3-years of a human's

It's estimated that a quarter of the UK’s horse population is older than 15 years of age, so compared to us humans, that’s a large proportion of horses over 45 years old!

The aging process brings with it some inevitable changes in horses. Like humans, horses are now generally living longer, with more active veteran horses than ever before, with many horses still competing and showing at the age of 20 or older.

For the senior horse that struggles to maintain his weight and condition, we'd all think that the obvious action is to increase calorie intake - however, this may not necessarily be the best route to take.  Older horses are less able to digest protein and fibre, although this could be from old verm damage to the horse's gut than caused directly by ageing alone.  If he can't chew long fibre due to teeth issues, the only nourishment he may be getting is from his feedbowl. In such situations, a senior horse or elderly pony needs a fibre source that both his teeth and gut can cope with, such as a high fibre feed soaked down to a mash.

The signs of ageing result in irreversible changes in a horse's body:

  • skin and soft tissue elasticity decreases - this causes the typical sunken back of an old horse.
  • teeth are constantly erupting, and eventually grow out of the gums, with the grinding surfaces of the teeth becoming smoother and less efficient.
  • the immune system becomes weaker and less able to fight disease.
  • circulation, which delivers nutrients and oxygen to the horse, becomes less able.
  • liver and kidney problems become more common as a horse or pony gets older, no longer functioning as they used to, nor supporting the immune system to help in fighting disease.
  • joints begin to stiffen.

It's also all too easy to be bedazzled by glossy bags of processed senior feed formulas - if organ function is compromised, many of the 'senior' formulas could actually make matters worse, i.e. most senior feeds have increased protein and fat, which are contraindicated for poor liver function, and some senior feeds containing higher phosphorous and calcium, which are contraindicated for poor kidney function.

Thankfully, nature has equipped us with an excellent range of herbs to keep the senior equine system working in harmony to maintain good health.

For nutritive senior horse support, see our ONLINE SHOP - ONLINE SHOP