Horses are powerful animals, and owning one is a matter of pride. But things change as your equine grows older and loses its power and virility. Your responsibilities as an owner differ down the line as you become more of a caregiver than a master. Taking care of an aging equine is hard work as it may encounter several health issues over the years. Beyond the physical needs, you also have to address its mental and emotional challenges. Here are a few practical tips for caring for an aging horse.
Feed quality diet
A senior horse requires a high-quality diet to fulfill its nutritional requirements and ensure easy digestion. You can find senior diets easily as most feed companies make them. They are easy to chew and provide more energy than regular feed options. Besides feeding enough vitamins and minerals to the aging equine, you must also follow the feed instructions. For example, a sole feed with senior pellets in larger volumes is better if the animal’s teeth are too worn to chew hay effectively.
Schedule routine exams
Vet checks are important at all ages, but you must be extra regular for aging horses. Make a proactive plan with your vet to schedule timely checks. Annual or semi-annual physical exams enable early detection and timely treatment of equine health issues. Typically, health exams should include body weight estimation and body condition score, dental checks, soundness checks, and vaccination planning. Routine urine tests and blood screening can detect subtle signs of age-induced organ problems.
Look for unusual symptoms
Besides scheduled checks by an expert, you must keep an eye on your senior horse to look for unusual symptoms. You may even enroll in an online equine health course with The Equine Institute to take better care of your aging pet. Look for signs like lumps, white skin, and raised spots in areas with a little hair coat. These may be early symptoms of cancer and require immediate medical attention. Also, check for indications like weight loss, lethargy, low appetite, and unexplained aggression.
Check your saddle fit
You may ride an aging horse until it is fit enough to bear the burden. In fact, it may enjoy your company during the later years. But remember to check the saddle fit before riding. As older horses have less back muscle, they are more prone to saddle sores. The last thing you want is to make riding a painful experience for your pet. Get it a comfortable saddle fit and avoid riding if the sores worsen.
Go the extra mile with bonding
Owning an older horse often means years of togetherness. But consider going the extra mile with your bonding with the animal as it ages. Spend quality time with it, feeding, petting, and engaging in light exercise. The animal thrives mentally and emotionally with good care and bonding with its owner. Consider it a responsibility to the animal that has been with you for years.
A horse owner must understand the needs of an aging equine. Think beyond vet visits and vaccines because the animal needs your love and compassion more than anything else.