Five Things The Older Horse Needs
 By mosquito   •   14th Aug 2011   •   5,035 views   •   18 comments
Owning a horse is a big responsibility, and it doesn’t end when your horse starts to age. If you have an older horse that is winding down, isn’t able to go riding very much (or at all), or even is deep into his twilight years you have a duty to provide him with the care that he deserves. Horses give us many years of love, fun, and even hard work, and they earn a comfortable retirement. That goes further than just feed and shelter – and old horse needs some extra special care, and here’s what he needs most.

Five Things The Older Horse Needs



More health checks

For an older horse, if something goes wrong, it’s a lot harder to put it right. That means if he gets ill, his feet deteriorate, or he starts to lose weight, getting him back to health will be a lot tougher than with a younger horse. That’s why it’s critical that you don’t let him get into poor health in the first place. Older horses will need to see the farrier more often, will need to get their teeth checked more frequently, and generally if you sense something is wrong then don’t wait to get the vet out. Get to know your horse’s condition closely, so you spot quickly if something doesn’t seem right. If he doesn’t finish a meal, doesn’t seem to be drinking, gets a chip in his hoof, or generally looks a little dull, then get him checked out before you have a problem.



Protection from the elements

An older horse will have more difficulty staying warm and keeping cool. In hot weather, make sure your older horse has plenty of shade and fresh water in easy reach. If your horses have to negotiate a steep bank to drink form a river your older horse may not want to make that effort and avoid drinking as much as he should, so make sure there are plenty of buckets or a trough of clean water. In the heat of the day, make sure he’s protected from flies with repellents or fly sheets, and sponge him off if it’s really hot – a quick dab on his head, around the girth area, and between his hind legs will cool the main pulse points and make him feel refreshed and comfortable. In cold weather, older horses can’t move around as much as younger ones to stay warm, so make sure he is adequately protected. If his winter coat isn’t coming in like it used to, make sure he has shelter from wind and rain, and use a rug if necessary. Digestion really helps to keep a horse warm – provide your old horse with plenty of hay if grass is sparse in the winter because the process of digesting that fiber will help to keep his temperature up.



Peace and quiet

Many older horses find new careers as ‘babysitters’ for young or lonely horses. That’s fine if you are sure your old horse is suited to that kind of job. Some older horses get a little grumpy in their old age, and don’t appreciate the antics of younger, more playful horses. Your horse may enjoy their company for a little while, but offering your horse some time with more mature company – even if it’s different animals other than horses – may give him some welcome peace and time to rest!




Try to think about how your old horse feels. Sometimes he will be stiff and sore, he may not be in the best mood, or he may be annoyed with the other horse sin the field. Respect how he feels. It may mean you need to walk a little slower when you lead him, you may need to be gentler with brushing and grooming him, and you really need to be on the lookout for signs he is hungry, too hot or too cold, or otherwise uncomfortable. Treat old horses with extra care; be aware that they may have aches and pains or fatigue, and that they will have good days and bad days. Being able to see how your horse is feeling through his eyes is of extra importance to older horses, especially if they become very tired or less expressive in their old age. I rarely say to tolerate misbehavior from a horse, but if your oldie snaps at you or is otherwise grumpy, take a moment to think about why – he may have a very good reason.




You may not be riding your old horse anymore, or at all. But don’t forget about him. Take some time every day not just to give him a good check over for any warning signs of ill health, but set aside a little time every day to just be with him. Have a chat, scratch him in his favorite itchy spot, or bring a special treat. Old horses can be wonderful companions for you, and they are usually very happy to listen. Even five or ten minutes to let him know he’s still special can make all the difference to an old horse!
Horse News More In This Category:  General      Horse News More From This Author:  mosquito
This is a great article
  Aug 14, 2011  •  3,432 views
Very well written as always.
  Aug 14, 2011  •  3,434 views
Great tips. Cash is getting old :P
  Aug 14, 2011  •  3,433 views
Great Article! I have a 23 year old gelding mself.
  Aug 14, 2011  •  3,469 views
All That Jazz  
Great article. :)
  Aug 14, 2011  •  3,437 views
Stay Untamed  
Wonderful points and good article :)
  Aug 14, 2011  •  3,461 views
Great article!
  Aug 15, 2011  •  3,432 views
Cruisin Past Curfew  
Great post :D We have a horse at our barn, and he is 27 years old! He is so sweet and lovable!
  Aug 15, 2011  •  3,435 views
Carpe Diem  
Great article. :)
  Aug 16, 2011  •  3,433 views
Great info!
  Aug 23, 2011  •  3,533 views
Very educational. Thank you for posting this!!!
  Aug 23, 2011  •  3,449 views
Good to know!
And very well written
  Aug 25, 2011  •  3,446 views
great job i love this article
  Aug 27, 2011  •  3,441 views
Breaking Free  
Love this article! Rudy is getting old too :) He is 27!
  Aug 28, 2011  •  3,628 views
Great article! Well-written and full of good info. Thanks!
  Sep 3, 2011  •  3,754 views
Phyxius  MOD 
Very helpful and informative
  Sep 3, 2011  •  3,610 views
wow very good.
  Sep 3, 2011  •  3,602 views
Deleted Accounts  
my favourite mare is over twenty years old and is still a brilliant lesson pony, she just needs a bit of extra care nowadays
  Mar 27, 2012  •  3,472 views
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