Six tips for a happy, healthy veteran horse


With many horses now living well into their twenties, some even into their thirties, and most working well into their advanced years, it’s important to make sure you give your veteran a bit of extra TLC.

Here are six tips for keeping him healthy.

1. Annual MOT

As horses age, they develop problems not normally seen in younger horses. Once your horse is 15, it’s advisable to have him checked over by your vet once a year. This will ensure any age-related health conditions are spotted early and managed.

2. Watch his weight

A change in weight up or down is one of the most common signs that something isn’t quite right. Body score him on a regular basis so you notice any changes early.

3. A balanced diet

Making sure your veteran is getting enough forage and all the nutrients he needs is essential. Chat through what your horse requires by calling one of the feed company helplines. They’ll be able to offer you the advice you need.

4. Dental care

Regular dental check-ups are a priority for older horses. As your horse ages, chewing food may become difficult and results in him not getting what he requires from his food. This leads to a loss of condition.

5. Mood swings

Keep an eye on your horse’s mood when he’s being handled and ridden. Any changes in his general behaviour could indicate he’s not happy and possibly in discomfort.

6. Boost his wellbeing

Turn your horse out as much as possible to keep his joints moving. As well as helping him physically, it will also benefit him mentally.

Bear in mind that many older horses enjoy coming into their stable for a good lie down and sleep too.

Time to retire?

Just as it’s important to keep your horse mobile, it’s equally important that you learn to spot the signs if he’s starting to struggle with the worlkload, or his health is deteriorating. Listen to your horse: if he’s not enjoying his work, he’ll let you know.

All horses are different and, like humans, age differently. As his owner, what’s important is that you are able to recognise when it may be time for your horse to take things a little easier.

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