Older Horses Part 4: Hoof and Joint Care

The aging process brings with it some inevitable changes in horses.
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With a little management and extra care, older horses can lead healthy, useful lives well into their golden years.

The aging process brings with it some inevitable changes in horses. As is often the case with humans, the horse’s joints begin to “stiffen” as he gets older. Eventually, many horses are unable to meet the same performance standards that they did when younger, and we begin to wonder what we can do to help.

There are a great many horses that fit into this category. Some veterinarians have estimated that about 20% of the horse population is older than 15 years of age. It is believed that one year of a horse’s life is equal to an average of three years of a human life. This would mean that a 15-year-old horse could be compared to a 45-year-old person.

In both cases, individuals of that age can remain healthy and lead useful lives, but issues like proper nutrition and attention to the joints are required when such needs surface. In some cases joint supplements might be called for, and if that doesn’t get the job done, joint injection might be a treatment of choice. We’ll concentrate on supplements in this article on older horses, leaving a discussion of joint injections for the actively competing horse

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Les Sellnow was a prolific freelance writer based near Riverton, Wyoming. He specialized in articles on equine research, and operated a ranch where he raised horses and livestock. He authored several fiction and nonfiction books, including Understanding Equine Lameness and Understanding The Young Horse. He died in 2023.

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