There is nothing like the bond you make with your horse. The relationship is truly unique, built on a mutual respect and trust, and it can be heart-breaking when the signs of old age start to creep in. However, there’s no reason to get despondent just because your horse doesn’t quite have the same get-up-and-go that they used to.

While most horses begin to show signs of aging in the second half of their teen years, it’s common for them to continue to enjoy life well into their twenties and even into their thirties. To make sure that you share plenty of experiences to come, here are a few steps that you can take.

Look After Their Back

As you might expect, issues with the spine are common for horses, especially as they get older, and if your horse has been performing competitively, then this is definitely something that you are going to want to look out for. Arthritis affects horses just as it does humans, and it can have an impact on their vertebrae. If your horse is showing signs of stiffness in their back, then be prepared to make some changes to their routine. Gentle exercise is important to keep those muscles moving, but so is a day off. It’s also important to make sure that you’re managing their weight, as those extra pounds can make for a hefty burden on their bones. You can look into foams and sprays to treat sore muscles, and if the problem is becoming painful, then you should talk to your vet about medical options.

However, something that you can do for your older horse is treat them to a massage. We’ve all given our animals a rub on stiff and tender muscle spots, but specialists will be able to discuss a programme with you to help them take some of the pressure off those painful areas. And remember: keep spending time with them outside for low-stakes exercise.

Their Teeth Are Going To Be An Issue

Well, who of us hasn’t noticed their teeth getting more problematic as they’ve grown older? You should be having someone look at your horse’s teeth about once a year at any rate, but as they get older you will have to pay more attention to any signs of dental issues. If you pay attention to how they eat at feeding time, you may notice some warning signs, such as food falling out of their mouth while they’re chewing. A tilt of the head to the side while they’re eating is also a clue that something in their mouth is causing them pain.

The fact of the matter is that their teeth simply get worn down during the course of their lives, grinding up their food as they do, so this is not really a problem that you can avoid entirely. It’s nothing that you’re doing wrong, it’s just how their mouths work. So, make sure that you’ve got an appointment with your horse’s dentist every six months and keep an eye on any changes in their weight. If your horse is having trouble chewing hay, there are several food options and supplements available to make sure that they are getting the nutrition they need. Equi Supermarket has a wide variety of horse supplies, including specialised nutrition, for horses of all ages. You can find out more by visiting

You Will Need To Make Sure They’re Staying Warm, And Staying Cool

As horses get older, they will start to struggle more and more with the extremes in weather as their ability to regulate their body temperature starts to fade. So, you’re going to need to get proactive. If your horse is used to being outside, you will need to make sure that they use their shelter when the rain and snow start coming down. During cold weather, make sure that they are warm enough with extra blankets, and make sure they’re staying nice and cool during the hot summer months. It’s also important to make sure that they’re drinking enough water during the winter. You can always soak their feed to make sure they’re taking on fluids even if they are reluctant to drink.

Watch Out For Laminitis And Cushing’s Disease

Naturally, your horse will be increasingly prone to illness as they get older, and one of the most common is Equine Cushing’s Disease, or PPID. It’s an endocrine disease that occurs when a tumour appears in the horse’s pituitary gland, and it can cause a whole range of issues, including Laminitis.

Laminitis is one of the most painful for your horse, which is when the laminae, which connect the wall of the hoof the bone, fail. Once your horse has suffered from it, they will become increasingly prone to it, so it’s vital that you keep an eye on warning signs and risk factors (such as weight gain and an over-reliance on sugar-rich foods). Damage occurs very quickly, and it can have a range of really nasty consequences. Other potential issues arising from Cushing’s are growing a heavy, curly coat which will not shed in heat, depression, lethargy, and excessive drinking, sweating and urinating.

You Will Need To Remember That It’s Your Responsibility To Watch Over Them

With many of the potential health issues that can befall your horse, they are not always immediately apparent, and if you’re not paying attention, you might miss them. As they get older, it is your responsibility to watch out for any changes in your horse’s behaviour, any signs of weight gain or weight loss, and any unusual issues with their coat. You’re also going to have to learn to be a lot more patient with them than you were before. Things are going to be harder for them and they won’t have as much energy and endurance as they did when they were younger. Remember: this is a relationship that you have treasured, and now there’s a burden on you to make sure you that you take care of them as they figure out how to adjust to the changes in their bodies. If you do that, then you will have more years together.

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