Time is one of those things that is hard to appreciate at the moment, but it continues on day after day, hour by hour, and minute by minute. We have all heard the expression- take time to smell the roses, but often we don't slow down until we are forced to. The same goes for our beloved pets and furry companions. We enjoy their loyalty, love, and companionship, but inevitably time marches on, and our once young pets start to show signs of aging and loss of the vigor and energy they once had.
Being an equine owner takes dedication and devotion beyond what a domestic pet owner needs to provide. As your mare ages, you will need to be on the lookout for physical changes and make sure you are keeping your senior horse as comfortable and happy as possible. Multiple factors, such as weight loss, joint problems, dental issues, hood care, and more, must be looked out for to keep an equine at peak health.
It is natural for horses to lose some weight as they age due to lower amounts of activity, tooth wear, or an increased calorie need. It is imperative to keep an eye on your equine and ensure they receive the proper vitamins and minerals needed in their senior years. You may need to introduce supplements into their feed to offset any dietary deficiencies. It is important to note that just because your equine is experiencing weight loss does not necessarily mean they are experiencing a severe health issue. Keep note of your horse's physical appearance, and set them up with regular dental care so they can eat to the best of their ability.
Like humans, with age comes the loss of physical strength and endurance for horses. A decline in fitness can result from many reasons, such as weight loss, joint issues, muscle loss, lameness, inactivity, and more. It is vital that your equine exercises regularly. Ensure you are not pushing your horse past its limits, but make sure they are not staying idle. Movement can loosen up your horse’s muscles, making them more comfortable and, ultimately, keeping them as active as possible.
Weakened Immune System
Equines can also experience difficulty with a weakened immune system as they age. They may be unable to fight off infections as quickly as they once could. That said, it is imperative to stay on top of your horse’s vaccinations, customized by a trusted veterinarian. Keeping your horse active and supplied with adequate nutrition will keep its immune system as strong as possible as they grow older.
Joint problems can also cause pain and stress on your horse. Your horse will inevitably experience regular wear and tear as they age, but owners must also look out for a more severe condition in their equine. Some signs that your equine may be experiencing joint trouble are lameness, stiffness, mood changes, decreased appetite, unusual posture, weight shifting, and more. When damage is done to a horse’s joints, its body undergoes an inflammatory response, which can cause significant discomfort. To help, keep your horse moving to the best of their ability as much as possible, and look into joint supplements with your veterinarian.
Scheduling dental appointments for your equine is crucial at any point in their life, but most importantly in their older years. As time goes on, your horse’s teeth can weaken, resulting in difficulty chewing, loose or lost teeth, and the inability to consume enough feed to keep them healthy. Dental checkups every six months can ensure that any matters are caught early on, and a plan can be provided specifically for your equine. Make sure to note any changes or issues with your horse’s teeth, and relay the message to your veterinarian when they visit. You may need to adjust their feed based on any problems they encounter.
Senior equines may experience laminitis more than their younger counterparts. Laminitis is the inflammation of sensitive layers of tissue (laminae) inside the hoof in horses. Some early signs of laminitis are lameness, heat in the foot, pain in the toe region, shifting weight or foot lifting, increased heart rate or digital pulse in the feet, and more. Laminitis can become extremely severe if not treated as soon as possible, especially with older horses. Contact your veterinarian today if you notice any signs of laminitis.
Our horse companions are always there for us, so we must always be there for them and take action when we notice any health issue. Here at Ryerss Farm for Aged Equines, our business is caring for aged, abused, or injured horses, providing a home where they can spend their golden years out to pasture. We take pride in our work and devotion to our equines, and we know how important it is for them to feel comfortable and healthy as they grow older. Learn more about Ryerss Farm, our mission, and our equines on our website!