Elderly horses and ponies may need some extra care to keep them in optimum condition through winter. Here are a few tips.
With age, horses’ teeth can wear unevenly, fall out or break and change shape, which can form gaps and overgrowths.
Dental pain from these problems can stop a horse from eating, leading to poor performance and weight loss. Regular dental checks can identify and correct these problems.
Elderly horses tend to need highly palatable, good quality food, however it’s important to feed as per their size, body condition score and level of exercise.
Elderly horses can have a reduced immune system, so can carry a higher worm burden.
Worming after the first frost for tape worm and encysted red worm is essential.
Further worming should ideally be done as per the results of regular worm egg counts, which we now offer in the practice. Poo picking and rotating grazing can help reduce the burden. Also, keep an eye out for Lice as they can hide in thick winter coats.
It is important to continue having the farrier tend to your horses’ feet every two to three months.
Regular vaccinations are still recommended for elderly horses as their immune systems can be less effective, therefore making them more susceptible to infectious disease.
Other age related diseases to be aware of are PPID (Equine Cushings Disease) and Osteoarthritis.