how do you manage your senior horse?

Discussion in 'Horse Health' started by trailcreekranch, Mar 29, 2017.

  1. trailcreekranch

    trailcreekranch Full Member

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    We have a 26 year old gelding and an 18 year old mare and want to be sure we are providing for them well. Just wondering, what do you folks do beyond normal diet, care., etc.? Ours are on good pasture most of the year and they also receive good mixed grass hay. We do give them a general vitamin supplement but not much in the way of other grain supplements because both tend to get chunky real fast. I've been reading about the need for probiotics, etc. for the aging horse and just wondered if there are things I should be doing as a preventive measure? Both horses are very healthy and still have great energy! I just want to help them keep feeling good and stay healthy as can be.
     
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  2. Old Val

    Old Val Full Member

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    Sounds like you're doing great so far. The key for me is knowing each horse individually as well as possible. Pay attention to any changes and address them as needed.
     
  3. CJ

    CJ Senior Member

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    Older horses dont always digest things efficiently. Make sure what theyre getting is sufficient and complete, easily digestible (eg pellet/ extruded vs hard grain).Their visible condition is hint #1 how theyre doing overall. Coat condition and weight will be hints if somethings lacking. Probiotics is an easy and affordable way to help digestion if necessary.
    I put my old guy on a higher fat feed and probiotic powder when he was in his upper 20s and losing/ keeping weight became a lil bit of a struggle. I tried Sr feed and weight supplements, unsuccessfully, compared to adding 10/10 and probiotics. Every horse is different. His buddy went catalytic and needed "sheer calories" to put weight back on, hi protein feed, alfalfa, corn oil, applesauce, & karo syrup, plus whey protein powder. And Calf Manna/ Animax or else hed might not eat it. It took months to show but it worked. Thats an extreme tho.
     
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  4. gaitedboomer

    gaitedboomer Senior Member

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    This is when it pays to really know your horse and recognize even minute changes.

    The guy in my avatar was 27 & his lifelong bud 29 when I laid them to rest 18 months apart. The 27 yr old had a major colic from strangulating lipomas. The 29 yr old had been a starving rescue when he was seven and always a hard keeper; he just seemed to really go down hill and lose his Will after Duke passed.

    There did reach a point with both of them that neither wanted to eat much at one feeding, so I upped their twice daily feelings to 3 or 4 times daily, depending on the season. Those extra feedings included well soaked hay cubes that I hand crushed into wet grass. They came in at night and were turned out every day.

    I always bring my horses in at night, but as they got older and less able to move around quickly, I would have brought them in anyway because we have a lot of merciless coyotes. They have stood around waiting for cows to calve so they can get the newborn but, the farmer was standing around with a gun, so they lost.

    Wishing you the best with them. Please post if you have other questions. There's a few on here who have taken our friends to their end times - I still have a 21 & a 23 yr old. The 21 yo is insulin resistant so nothing for him is normal. The 23 yo still thinks he is 13 and is in generally good health except for some stifle issues because he still thinks he is 13:)
     
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  5. MzCarol

    MzCarol Senior Member

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    We took on the care of a 27yr old Thoroughbred last August. At the time he was about a 3 on the condition scale.

    We put him on Triple Crown Senior feed and he was out 24/7 on pasture until Dec 1. At that time we added alfafa cubes, soaked.

    We just had spring check ups, dentals, etc done on everyone and the vet was very happy that Dante is now a 4.5 on the condition scale :)

    His teeth are miserable so watch your horse carefully. He has lost most of his upper incisors and his lower incisors are at a 45 degree angle. Because of this his grain and cubes are soaked to sloppy to he can lip it up easily. We feed him on the concrete barn floor a) so we can better monitor that he's eating everything and b) he doesn't lip up bedding when he eats. We also found that 3 of his molars have vertical cracks in them and are pretty wobbly. We are in the process of consulting with an equine dentist to have them removed. Luckily, for now, they don't upset him and there is no infection. Be careful about giving too much 'extra' stuff via supplements because their systems are so fragile at the older end.

    Keep an eye on your weather and sheet/blanket if necessary. That really helped Dante hold his weight over the winter. It's a pain to keep switching them but it's the best for the horse to not exert that extra energy to keep warm. Also watch the weather for drastic changes in the barometric pressure as the older ones are more susceptible to colic in their fragile state.

    The best thing you can do for the old guys is to keep them moving. Like humans, moving is better for arthritis. It can be simple hand walking for 20 minutes/day but that movement helps. Once Dante loosens up you would swear he's 5 again :) He looooves trail rides and gets very excited about getting on the trailer to go for one :)
     
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  6. Cynical25

    Cynical25 Senior Member

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    As others said, knowing and watching your horses for changes is your first step, so good job :)

    My 22yr old Arab mare went from her usual self this summer to full on senior seemingly overnight this fall - the change in looks & behavior was so drastic we did blood tests to make sure she wasn't sick, then moved her to Triple Crown Senior w/soaked alfalfa pellets and her fiery-Arab energy and personality returned.

    She's lost muscle tone over her back, shoulders and hips which makes her look skinny at first glance, even when she has a too thick layer of fat over her ribs and belly. It's a tough balance because visually I want to feed more to cover the bones, but that would just add excess weight she truly doesn't need (vet agrees.) Teeth are checked twice yearly along with a melanoma check, since she's gray and has tons. As long as melanomas aren't impeding bodily function we leave them alone. Feet are trimmed every 6 weeks.

    Spring arrived early in North Texas, so she's down to 1lb Triple Crown Senior 2x/day w/MSM supplement and no alfalfa pellets, and I'll continue to adjust as the all day grass buffet gets richer. She overnights in a dirt paddock, never stalled, to hopefully encourage movement. She doesn't pop & creak as much as before I started MSM a few months back, so I guess it's doing something?
     
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  7. Bikis901

    Bikis901 Registered

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    But I do think you take well care of them.
     
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  8. slc

    slc Senior Member

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    If it ain't broke, don't fix it. If the horses look healthy and act healthy, they don't need anything changed or added.

    Horses can have problems with their teeth at that age, so I'd put away the money for extra supplements and such and use that money to have the dentist vet out twice a year. Their teeth can break as they're starting to get close to the end of the roots of the teeth when in their mid 20's.

    Just good decent basic care, that's what they need.
     
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  9. Mcdreamer

    Mcdreamer Senior Member

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    It sounds like you're doing an excellent job already! The best thing for the old timers is unrestricted movement and access to forage. If that's enough to keep them at an ideal weight and meets all their nutritional needs then you're doing good! Adding a probiotic couldn't hurt and it's relatively inexpensive. Smartpak has a few that are geared towards seniors but you can also just order a simple probiotic.

    For harder keepers or old guys that drop weight my go to is beet pulp and alfalfa cubes and rice bran. I try to add calories without loading up the grain.
     
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  10. Alsosusieq2

    Alsosusieq2 Senior Member

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    I never had coyotes go after my calves, where do you live? Had a lot of cattle and a lot of coyotes. They only went after small vermine here.
     

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