Feeding and Caring for Older Horses


By: Lisa Norton, BioZyme Vice President of Marketing and Sales

More horses than ever are living into their 30s, thanks to a commitment from owners to provide their beloved companions with a happy and healthy retirement. However, exactly when a horse should be considered “old” varies. The kind of life a horse has led and its breed play a big part in determining when old age actually hits. Pony breeds tend to live longer, while bigger breeds tend to make old bones earlier.

As the owner of a 27-year-old Hanoverian, “Tubby”, and the Vice President for an animal nutrition company, I think about whether I am doing all I can for him on a daily basis.

The first question is when is a senior considered a senior. To my 7-year-old granddaughter I am old, but to me and thankfully to my doctor, I am far from it. However, if I am really honest, things are changing in some departments of my life due to my age. So the same must be happening to Tubby. A simple multiplication of the horse’s age by 3 gets us the horse’s equivalent in human age. That being said Tubby is 81. Is he a senior? Absolutely.

Unfortunately, just like in people, old age can bring with it a number of problems, some of which can be treated with success, while others involve management and control of the symptoms. The list to review regularly to ensure you are doing everything you can for your senior friend includes the following:

  • Teeth – As horses’ age, dental care is even more important.
  • Blood Screening – A blood-screening test can reveal a lot of information about general health, including crucial kidney and liver function.
  • Paddock Arrangements – Older horses tend to be slower eaters. This is an important consideration if your older horse shares a paddock with young upstarts. The last thing you want is the horse being bossed off their food.
  • Exercise – The moderate exercise an old horse gets from being turned out in a paddock for at least some amount of time is not only good for its mental well-being, it will also help its mobility and aid digestion.
  • Hoof Care – The strengths and weaknesses in your horse’s feet will be truly revealed come old age. Some horses can go shoeless, while others may require regular shoeing to keep their feet in good order.

As horses grow older, their ability to digest feed and absorb nutrients also becomes less efficient, which leads to weight loss or loose manure. Senior horse feeds will generally have the following elements to make sure older horses are receiving all the nutrition they need:

  • Increased protein level in order to provide proper amino acids, such as lysine and methionine, for metabolic functions, muscle maintenance and hoof quality.
  • Elevated fat content to provide extra calories, with the benefit of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids.
  • Prebiotics to support nutrient digestion.
  • Organic trace minerals that are more highly bioavailable than traditional trace mineral sources.
  • Enhanced calcium and phosphorus levels to help guard against bone demineralization.

Since a healthy digestive system is the largest contributor to overall health, making sure your aging friend is digestively healthy means less sickness and more longevity for you. Try adding Amaferm to your senior’s diet for a good gut feeling. To learn more about equine products with Amaferm, visit http://biozymeinc.com/vitalize/equine-products/.