Your horse is of that certain age–a senior, a veteran, a golden gal or golden guy, a moldy oldie. The last rail’s been cleared (or knocked down), the backstretch run, the pattern completed. Life’s about cruisin’ in the slow lane.
Now that your horse is officially a senior citizen, you wonder, shouldn’t he starting eating like one?
But what does feeding a senior horse entail? Is a special senior formula the best option? Can or should forage remain the foundation of your aging horse’s diet? Is supplementation needed for his aging digestive system? When should a horse be switched to a senior diet and, more importantly, why?
There are plenty of reasons why aging can take a toll on senior digestion.
Poor dentition is high on that list. An older horse can run out of teeth, since a horse’s teeth essentially grow until they’re gone. In addition to tooth loss, tooth fractures, diastemas (gaps between the teeth), abnormal wear patterns, and sharp points decrease the horse’s ability to grasp and grind food. That, in turn, leads to decreased food ingestion and, ultimately, weight loss. Horses with these disorders benefit from diets that are easier to ingest.
Many "old horse disorders" can adversely affect the horse’s ability to digest and absorb nutrients, or the condition can be exacerbated by an inappropriate feed protocol. These senior maladies can include equine Cushing’s disease; liver, kidney, and intest