Feeding your senior horse properly can make all the difference in his overall health and longevity. This article will help you make the most of the later years in your horse's life.
Things You'll Need
- Ability to research feeds
- Willingness to spend a little extra money
Feeding a geriatric horse can be challenging, but the rewards are a longer, happier life and a healthier horse. One of the simplest steps to feeding the old horse is to make sure you separate him from his younger companions. Old horses are often not at the top of the pecking order, they chew slower, and are more apt to get hurt in a scuffle over feed. So do him a favor and put him in a place where he can eat by himself, in his own time--and get all the feed that is coming to him.
Chewing can be a problem for the older horse. Often, their teeth are worn down to nothing, or are missing. Even worse, some people do not properly care for their horse's teeth by having a vet "float" them, so the horse's teeth are in even worse shape than just age alone can make them. Since horses no longer graze 100 percent of the time in so many cases, their teeth can develop all kinds of horrible spurs and projections, which makes at least once annual visits to the vet to have them filed by a vet a necessity. So, having your horse's teeth checked regularly, especially if he is in his late teens and up, is an absolute must.
Feeding the proper balance of fat, protein, and starches is also critical. Old horses still need lots of forage, but unless it is very tender new grass, they often are not able to chew it well enough to absorb all the nutrients. It is critical to feed a special diet to make sure your old friend is getting all the nutrition he needs. There are several "Senior Horse Feeds" on the market now at any feed store that can help you supply your older horse with the feed he needs.
Supplementing your old horse is not necessary when you have him on a senior horse feed, but if you maintain a regular diet for him, you will need to add fat, protein, and minerals. His intake of these is important in his old age, and he will not be able to get them from regular horse feed. Beet pulp can be a wonderful addition to his diet as it will add fiber, fat, protein, and is extremely easy to digest.
Soaking your horse's feed in warm water before you feed him is also suggested when the horse has lost most of his teeth. Making a slurry out of a senior feed is a great way to get the nutrition he needs into him, and chances are, he will love it.