Old Horses, Old Problems

It is amazing how many horse owners have one or more horses over the age of 15. My daughter's old Arab mare is 22 this year. She's slowed down (somewhat), has a bit more trouble getting up and down, and has a little more sway to her topline, but she has lost none of her zest for life. She rules the roost, but is the kindest soul on the farm. This month's cover story on caring for older horses is a testimony to the improvement in equine health care over the past 20 years. Parasites that used to debilitate are held at bay, no longer leaving a path of destruction through the horse's body. Tooth problems that used to mark the end of a horse's life have been forestalled by a new respect and understanding for equine dental care, improved dental instrumentation, and better nutritional choices. Arthritis that in past decades would have put a horse out to pasture (or in the ground) now can be held in check with proper physical management and medical maintenance. And we keep on learning more each year about how to better care for our horses from before birth to the end of their golden years.

Many horses--like many of their human counterparts--are working longer and are happy to be at work. Other horses are content to laze away the days of retirement.

No matter your horse's lifestyle, scheduling regular wellness exams with your veterinarian and protecting your horse with proper immunizations will go a long way toward ensuring that your old friend stays around a few more years.

Where There's A Will...

An article in our Equinomics column this month goes along with our cover story: Horses and wills (page 101). Since horses are living longer, there is the distinct possibility that your horse might outlive you. There also are unforeseen accidents that leave horses ownerless. Have you prepared for the possibility that you might die before your horse?

This article gives good tips on how to prepare for your horse's care after you are gone. Even if you have spelled out who will take control of your horse from your estate, in the immediate aftermath of your demise, is someone responsible for such simple tasks as feeding and watering your horse until your will can be probated? Have you left funding to provide for your horse's care immediately after you die and perhaps even allocated funds for the new owner to properly care for your horse? Are you sure the person to whom you are leaving your horse can and will take care of him?

Death is not a topic we want to think about, nor is it one we want to ignore. Take time to talk to your attorney and make sure your horse's well-being is addressed beyond your lifetime.

Feeding Older Horses

Another article in this issue that goes along with our cover story on older horses is our Nutrition column on feeding those friends who are a little long in the tooth (page 95).

Proper nutrition is a requirement for a healthy horse. As horses age, their nutritional requirements change. Some don't have the chewing power they used to have and need a different type of feed. Some now don't utilize nutrients as well and might need supplementation. Some have compromised immune systems and require extra TLC.

The Horse Source Arrives This Month!

All subscribers to The Horse magazine this month received a copy of The Horse Source, a great resource for horse owners, farm managers, or anyone involved in the industry. The Horse Source offers 12,520 listings in 76 categories from artificial insemination to welfare/rescue organizations. All of these listings are free, so there is no bias for large vs. small companies. If you need a product or service for your horse, your farm, or yourself, you'll find it in The Horse Source. If you are not a subscriber to The Horse, you can order The Horse Source from Exclusively Equine by calling 800/582-5604, or visit www.ExclusivelyEquine.com.

About the Author

Kimberly S. Brown

Kimberly S. Brown was the Publisher/Editor of The Horse: Your Guide To Equine Health Care from June 2008 to March 2010, and she served in various positions at Blood-Horse Publications since 1980.

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