How to Keep Your Senior Horse Happy and Healthy

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Standlee senior horse

As horses grow older and change, techniques for properly caring for them change.

Humans aren’t the only ones seeing a drastic increase in lifespan. Today, it’s not uncommon for horses to live until their upper 20’s or even early 30’s. As horses grow older and change, techniques for properly caring for them change as well.

What signifies a senior horse? Commonly, it’s believed that when a horse starts using the phrase “whippersnapper,” it’s considered a senior horse. However, a more correct description of senior is when a horse becomes a “Nutritional Senior.” A nutritionally senior horse is one that can no longer eat its normal diet and maintain a proper body condition. Typically, these horses have dental problems, decreased nutrient absorption and/or increased sensitivity to stress. We’ll show you how you diagnose and deal with senior horse dental problems in this article.

Dental Problems

Like humans, horses have two successive sets of teeth throughout their lives: deciduous (baby teeth) and permanent sets. As horses age, their teeth wear down from chewing and grinding their feed. Teeth are an essential part of a horse’s digestive system as they breakup feed into more suitable sizes. Without properly chewing their food, horses cannot effectively digest their feed. Old horses will often drop or spill grain from their mouths. Sometimes they will even wad up hay or grass into partially chewed balls and drop them on the ground. Inefficient chewing of feed can lead to digestive upset, weight loss and nutrient deficiency.

It's impossible to fully prevent horses from losing their teeth. However, with proper care, it’s possible to largely minimize the resulting problems. Horses missing teeth should rely on alternate sources of pasture and hay as their ability to chew is limited. Forage products such as hay cubes, pellets and chopped forage can be used as substitute long stem forage sources. These forage sources are often fed wet or in a “mash” or “gruel” form to minimize issues of choking associated with the inability to properly chew.

Standlee’s Premium Western Alfalfa/Timothy Grass Pellets and Beet Pulp Pellets are some of the best forms of nutrition for your senior horse. Discover is these feeds are right for your horse by viewing more details on our website at standleeforage.com.