Feeding the Veteran Horse - Part One. Is Your Horse Showing Signs of Older Age?
𝗪𝗵𝗲𝗻 𝗶𝘀 𝗮 𝗵𝗼𝗿𝘀𝗲 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝘀𝗶𝗱𝗲𝗿𝗲𝗱 𝗼𝗹𝗱? 𝗜𝘁 𝗶𝘀 𝗶𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗲𝘀𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗺𝗼𝗿𝗲 𝗼𝗳𝘁𝗲𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝗻 𝗻𝗼𝘁, 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘀𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗰𝗿𝗲𝗲𝗽𝘀 𝗶𝗻 𝗱𝘂𝗿𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘄𝗶𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗿 𝗺𝗼𝗻𝘁𝗵𝘀, 𝗽𝗿𝗼𝗯𝗮𝗯𝗹𝘆 𝗯𝗲𝗰𝗮𝘂𝘀𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝗶𝘀 𝘄𝗵𝗲𝗻 𝗺𝗼𝘀𝘁 𝗵𝗼𝗿𝘀𝗲𝘀 𝘁𝗲𝗻𝗱 𝘁𝗼 𝗱𝗿𝗼𝗽 𝗮 𝗹𝗶𝘁𝘁𝗹𝗲 𝘄𝗲𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁.
The truth is that horses just like humans age at different rates and may need extra nutritional support earlier or later than their stable mates.
This week I thought I would share the three ‘major types’ of older/veteran horses and ponies that I tend to see when out on my travels and the things that I consider when feeding them. I’m going to kick off today however with some simple checks you can make to help you assess where you are currently at:-
Check the teeth. Is he able to chew his feed properly (both hard feed and forage)? Check that he is not 'quidding' (losing semi chewed food from the side of the mouth). If he is it may also be necessary to consider a hay replacer depending on the severity.
Check his condition. Is he maintaining his weight nicely? As previously stated many horses will drop weight slightly during the colder months, this on the surface is not necessarily a problem, particularly for native types who tend to need to lose a little weight during this time of year. However, if you are noticing a real difference or sudden loss of condition this needs to be addressed. Speak to your vet in the first instance to rule out any other possible factors.
Is he bright and alert? Such a simple thing to look for, but keep an eye out for any changes in behaviour or temperament.
Is he still coping with his work? Is he moving freely and coping well with the work asked of him? Or are you finding he is stiffer and finding it harder to keep up with what you are asking of him? Perhaps he now takes longer to warm up. Again, try and keep tabs on what normal is for him.