Thousands of owners of senior horses and ponies took part in a new survey exploring the care of older equines.

Completed by more than 12,000 participants, the research by Spillers revealed that 32.7% of respondents’ horses were 25-years-old or more and that 65.6% of owners of seniors considered their horses to be classed as senior at 20+ years.

The results will help the feed company understand more about supporting the growing sector of senior horses nutritionally, to help them live longer healthier lives.

The survey showed that the participants are faithful to their veterans with 58% having owned their horse or pony for 11+ years and 5.7% having owned their veteran for more than 26 years. 99.3% intended to keep their senior horse for the rest of their life.

Senior horses were also shown to be predominantly healthy and active: 78% were considered to be in good condition, with 10% of the remainder being classified as overweight and 12% as underweight.

A total of 25.8% of seniors included in the survey had no known clinical issues or health-related problems. However, 44% showed signs of stiffness or arthritis. 15.2% were recorded as having Pars Pituitary Intermedia Dysfunction (PPID), while dental issues were experienced by 15.2% of senior horses.

In terms of exercise, 62.8% were still in ridden work but 72.9% of these were in light work or slowing down.

Hard feed-wise, 37.2% of respondents’ horses were eating a senior specific feed and of these 53.7% had opted for a senior mash.

“Congratulations to all the owners and carers of senior horses as well as the equine industry as a whole for playing their part in helping our treasured senior horses and ponies grow old gracefully,” said Claire Dyett Marketing Manager for Spillers.

“It’s a real achievement that our seniors are ageing later and staying healthy and active in their older years. While almost a third are recorded as having PPID or dental issues, this is perhaps to be expected because horses are living longer. That more than a third of the respondents are opting for a senior specific feed, predominantly a mash, indicates that nutrition choices are helping to support health as horses age and encounter metabolic and dental problems. The results will help us in our perpetual mission to make the world a better place for horses.”

Spillers has been involved with numerous research collaborations which bring together world-leading equine veterinary, nutrition and research experts to support the wellbeing, performance and longevity of senior horses and ponies.

Lead image of 16-year-old Ronnie, who is fed on Senior Complete Care Mix

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