Looking after a more senior horse is a privilege but wintertime can be a challenge. In order to enable veteran horses to continue living their best life, planning is key and here are some headings for horse owners to use during the winter months.
Looking after an older horse is a privilege especially as they have given us such pleasure and memories. However, wintertime can prove to be challenging for the older horse owner between feeding, exercise and that is not even mentioning the unpredictable weather! It pays off to make a winter plan for your older horse to ensure all his needs are met. We have compiled some headings to help get you started:
Body Condition Assessment
It is important to assess your horse’s body condition throughout the winter months. As the cold weather bites, weight loss can occur as the older horse can use up more reserves to keep warm. Providing an outdoor shelter for horses in fields helps keep them warm and offers respite from wind/rain. For senior horses, an outdoor rug is essential for warmth and protection from the elements. Remember to check rugs daily to prevent rubs or sores as well as to monitor body condition.
Forage generates heat as your horse chews and digests it, thus helping to keep horses warm. Access to high quality forage is essential for both horses stabled indoors as well as outdoors. However forage alone can be unable to provide enough heat for older horses when the temperatures really drop so it is crucial to consider feeding concentrates. When correctly provided, concentrated feed can help with warmth as well as reduce the risk of weight loss due to cold. Consult your equine nutritionist for the best concentrates to provide your older horse.
In colder weather, older horses can be put off drinking water owing to the water being too cold and unpleasant. Water is essential to prevent impaction colic so encourage water intake by increasing water temperature or provide a soaked feed.
Joint Mobility and Stiffness
For all horses, joint cartilage is continually being broken down with replacement cartilage being manufactured daily. However, this balance can be upset due to old age. Wear and tear in joints/muscles from years of work can take their toll on older horses resulting in stiffness which can become more pronounced in winter. Arthri Aid is a Glucosamine, Chondroitin, MSM and HA supplement aids the lubrication and helps to promote regeneration of the important shock absorbing tissues of your horses joints. It is ideal for senior horses to help combat joint stiffness and assist mobility.
Immune System Health
During the winter, a horse’s immune system can become depleted and so supplementation should be considered. A horse’s physiological health, which includes the immune system, depends on the healthy gut microbiome. Gut Gold is a pre and probiotic supplement that contains a live yeast Saccharomyces Cerevisiae formulation. Gut Gold helps support a healthy gastrointestinal tract and aid digestion, making it ideal for older horses, poor doers or horses that tend to lose condition at any time of year such as in winter.