Keeping your older horse happy and well into his last years, is a brilliant gift you can give him. It is not always possible to do so, life can be too difficult, and it can simply not be practical. But if you have the time and resources to do so, this will help you to take the best care possible of your older horse.
It is well documented that one of the most important things for the elderly, both human and equine, is movement. One of the biggest problems with the elderly occurs when they put on bed rest and stop moving. Equally putting an old horse on box rest can causes stiffness and decrease in flexibility. Keeping your old horse out in the field where he can walk about will have a good effect on his general health.
Anything that helps keep your horse moving, will help him in his later years. Such as encouraging him to stretch using carrot stretches, or baited stretches. Equally massage will encourage the muscles to work better and is an enjoyable way to spend time with horse when riding him may no longer be an option.
Remember that as your horse grows older his needs will change, so don’t fall into the “oh but I’ve always it done it that way” trap! In old age the horse’s digestion alters and their bite changes with age, speak to your trusted professionals to see how you can alter their feeding program to help them gain the nutrition they require.
You may choose to no longer shoe your old horse, once they are not being worked, but they will still need their feet trimmed to keep them comfortable. Hopefully you will have a patient farrier already! Bear in mind that as your horse gets stiffer, he may find that holding his feet in one position difficult.
There is plenty of joy still to be had caring for your older horse, much of our pleasure in our horses comes not from riding but from the simple day-to-day interaction with them. Take time to care for older horse and you will be rewarded by on-going bond of affection and trust.
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Image by Rex Pickar from unsplash.com