Blue Plate Special: Senior Horse Nutrition

Develop your senior horse’s diet with geriatric conditions and challenges in mind.
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Develop your senior horse’s diet with geriatric conditions and challenges in mind.

If you have a senior horse in your barn, chances are he’s a much-loved family member that has been with you for many years. Older horses can be a blessing, but as they age they might face significant feeding challenges that make it difficult for them to maintain a healthy weight and body condition. This article will address some of those common challenges.

Dental Health

As a horse ages, he gradually wears down the grinding surfaces of his teeth–and while the teeth continue to grow throughout a horse’s life, often their wear and tear outstrips the replacement rate. Past his mid-20s he might literally have reached the end of the line when it comes to the roots of his teeth; the remaining little nubs are often loosely anchored in his jaws and prone to being lost or broken. This compromises your horse’s ability to graze and chew. In very old horses the teeth might become so worn that they are practically nonexistent, leaving the horse with a limited ability to take in nutrients

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Written by:

Karen Briggs is the author of six books, including the recently updated Understanding Equine Nutrition as well as Understanding The Pony, both published by Eclipse Press. She’s written a few thousand articles on subjects ranging from guttural pouch infections to how to compost your manure. She is also a Canadian certified riding coach, an equine nutritionist, and works in media relations for the harness racing industry. She lives with her band of off-the-track Thoroughbreds on a farm near Guelph, Ontario, and dabbles in eventing.

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