Thanks to advances in veterinary medical technology, today’s horses are living longer and more comfortable lives than horses in the past. However in order to make use of that technology, owners must first be able to detect when there’s something not quite right with their animals–especially with geriatric horses. As a team of British researchers recently discovered, some important medical conditions are being overlooked by some owners and caretakers of geriatric horses.

Previous research by Joanne Ireland, BVMS, MRCVS, a research assistant at the University of Liverpool in England, funded by the Horse Trust, found that most horses aged 15 years or older have at least one health problem.

"It is the horse owner’s or caretaker’s responsibility to recognize disease and seek a veterinarian’s assistance when required," Ireland said. "However, some owners attribute the clinical signs of disease to the normal aging process or may not recognize the significance of certain health problems."

To determine how frequently owners recognize clinical problems in geriatric horses, Ireland’s randomly selected 200 geriatric horses throughout the northwest and midlands of England Northern Wales. A veterinarian examined each horse, and the researchers questioned owners regarding their perception of their horses’ health.

"We found that owners underreported many conditions and had not reported many clinical signs of disease that were detected at veterinary examination," noted Ireland.

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