Keeping Your Senior Horse Healthy

Keeping Your Senior Horse Healthy

How Age Affects Your Horse

Age affects our horses on several fronts. The senior years challenge all body systems. Age affects each body system differently.

The muscles and joints of the body are likely the first systems we expect to deteriorate with age. Consequently,  over time, muscles weaken and can atrophy. Moreover, joint issues result in lameness, swelling, and pain.

If a horse suffers from heaves (horse asthma) throughout its lifetime, it will worsen with age. The cardiovascular system of a horse is under great strain. With age, the heart and blood vessels weaken and can rupture.

Overall, reproductive quality and fertility decrease with age. It is difficult and dangerous for a senior mare to carry a pregnancy to term. Sperm quality also declines.

Senior Horse Conditions

Horses can develop several conditions because of age. All the medical conditions listed are serious concerns, and most can be fatal. Discuss any symptoms or early warning signs with your veterinarian.

Some conditions that your horse can develop with age are:

  • Cushing’s Disease (PPID)
  • Arthritis
  • Colic
  • Infections
  • Cancer
  • Liver Disease
  • Kidney Malfunction
  • Choke Hearing
  • Loss Cataracts
  • Glaucoma
  • Laminitis

Maintaining the Health of Your Horse

Medical Treatment

Routine care and regular vaccinations are vital to maintaining the health of your horse throughout his entire life. Additionally, regular grooming and visits from the farrier visits are essential. Perform regular checks for insects and parasites that may be infesting your horse.

You are your horse’s advocate. You know his actions, likes, and dislikes. If an action seems unusual, contact your veterinarian immediately.


The dietary needs of your horse will change as he ages. Senior horses struggle to absorb nutrients from their diet. Digestive issues and dental problems can also drive nutritional changes.

If your horse is successfully maintaining his weight, there is no need to change your horse’s diet. However, contact your veterinarian immediately if your horse shows digestive issues or weight loss.

Some changes you can make to your horse’s diet to support him through his senior years are:

  • Add green grass
  • Supply quality hay
  • Provide supplements
  • Offer smaller, more frequent meals

Exercise is one of the easiest ways to keep your senior horse healthy. Naturally, senior horses are less active. Arthritis or other joint issues may lead you to exercise less. However, regular exercise that matches your horse’s abilities is the best medicine.

Always finish your activity with a cool-down period to avoid swelling and stiffness in your horse’s joints.

The canter is the best gait for horses suffering from joint issues. It is easy on their joints well challenging their body. One thing to keep in mind is elderly horses can tire quickly and overheat. Monitor your horse’s reaction to various activities.

The canter is the best gait for horses suffering from joint issues. It is easy on their joints well challenging their body. One thing to keep in mind is elderly horses can tire quickly and overheat. Monitor your horse’s reaction to various activities.

Keeping Your Senior Horse Healthy
Remember the Teeth

With age, horses wear their teeth down, which can be challenging to notice. Your veterinarian may suggest a visit from the veterinary dentist. He will assess the teeth and determine any dental treatment needed.

90 thoughts on “Keeping Your Senior Horse Healthy”

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