Older Creature Comforts: Keeping Senior Horses Happy

I’m concerned about my senior horse’s happiness. How can I keep him comfortable and content?
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keeping senior horses happy
If a 30-year-old horse appears happy, there's no reason to expect that to change until he develops a physical or social discomfort. | Photo: iStock

Q.My senior horse is 30 this year. Overall, he’s a healthy horse with minor issues (I have him on a pellet diet because of dental issues). My biggest concern is his mental happiness as his body deteriorates. Do you have any tips on keeping senior horses happy?

—Ashley, via e-mail

A.What a great question. I don’t know of any research on changes in horses’ mental comfort or what we might interpret as loss of happiness in horses of advanced age like we think of in some people of advanced age, so I can only answer from experience

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Sue M. McDonnell, PhD, is a certified applied animal behaviorist and the founding head of the equine behavior program at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine. She is also the author of numerous books and articles about horse behavior and management.

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