Aging is an aspect that every kind of living goes through. Horses grow over time and with the same, their needs and the way they live also change. You can’t pet your senior horse the way you feed and take care of your young horse.
They need more care, they have a different diet and they need more affection. With aging, their ability to sustain harsh weather lessens.
Your horse might have passed previous winters without a lot of trouble, but you being a responsible caregiver need to ensure that your horse is given the love and care it needs and deserves so that it can live and survive the cold weather with ease and comfort.
You might wonder when to consider your horse as the older one. Where there is no fixed span after which a horse can be called senior, you can get to know about it by the way it lives and evolves.
There are numerous signs of aging that can clearly notice that your horse is getting older and needs a change in its lifestyle.
As much likely as a horse in its late 20’sis to start showing signs of aging, a horse in its early 15’s too is equally possible to do the same.
It completely lies on the horse and thus,the age of being called “old” varies for the horses.
Some of the common signs of aging witnessed in horses are immunity issues, stiffness, digestion problems, weight maintenance issue, eating problems, weakened bones, lesser stamina, etc.
Here are some tips that can help you take better care of your older horses in winter:
1) Nutritional Changes:
With aging, the nutritional needs of your horses change. Along with that, the diet also needs to be laid out in a way that matches not only to their age but also to the weather.
Winters call for food that can provide warmth to your horse’s body. Going to a vet and getting a proper diet can also help.
Feed your senior horses with high-quality forage (hay); it will meet your horse’s nutritional needs and will also provide body warmth.
2) Better Joint Health:
With years of running and exercising, the bones and joints of your horses can also weaken. Aging can be clearly seen in their walking and exercising style as the bones directly get affected.
Winters can lead to more painful bones for your horses. Joint supplements, nutritional diet, right exercise, and prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs from the vet can help improve and maintain your horse’s joints.
3) Weight Maintenance:
Weight management is yet another major issue that comes up with aging. While some horses might undergo weight gain due to inappropriate exercise and overeating.
They are also equally likely to suffer from weight loss that can possibly occur due to digestion issues, oral health problems, cold temperatures, etc.
You need to regularly check your horse’s weight and keep a record of the same to understand and make changes that can help maintain its weight.
Vet visits along with proper exercise,right supplements, probiotics, antibiotics, amino acids, enzymes, etc can improve digestion, food intake and will help maintain the ideal weight of your horse.
4) Improving Immunity:
With aging, your horse’s immune system starts answering. It gets weaker and your horse becomes vulnerable and prone to illnesses, diseases, and injuries.
The best way to improve your old horse’s immunity is by visiting the vet regularly and providing your horse with all the suitable and necessary vaccines that can make its immunity better.
Other than that, you as the caregiver can ensure that healthy, nutritional and digestive food is given to your horse which can help it survive the winters and keep its immune system strong.
Winters usually tend to decrease the water intake of your horse. This happens because of the cold weather that makes water icy cold.
Keeping your horses hydrated in winters is very important because it regulates their body temperature, ensures digestion and proper metabolism. Perfect American barns give your horses a proper amount of moving and relaxing space.
To keep them hydrated, you should give them warm and heated water and you should also ensure that they have a constant supply of unfrozen, healthy water 24/7. Adding salt to their food will also help as it makes them thirstier.
In all, aging is a long process and every horse can deal with it happily if given adequate care and love. Winters might make it difficult for them but a warm surrounding, proper diet, regular exercise, and hydration can significantly help your senior horse survive the cold weather.
Emily Davis works at Cheval Liberte as a community manager. Cheval Liberté has been designing, developing and producing stalls, temporary stables and stable equipment since 1995, Driven by their passion for horses, Cheval Liberté was founded by both riders and breeders and since 2005 this passion has been implemented in the UK, with our North Wales company being the sole importer of Cheval Liberté products for distribution and erection throughout the UK & Ireland.