Feed Needs of Older Horses

As our horses age and their bodies start to fail, we have to meet their changing nutritional needs.
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Our horses are living longer now than ever before. Improved parasite control, better nutrition, and advances in veterinary care combine to give us more days with our animals and improve the quality of their lives as they reach their third and even fourth decades. In fact, an estimated 20% of horses in the United States are over the age of 15.

It’s good news for us. We get more years with our horses, and our horses live longer and more productive lives. But as our horses age and their bodies start to fail, we have the obligation to meet their changing nutritional needs. Older horses with problems (geriatrics)–whether they are hard keepers or suffer from metabolic diseases or painful unsoundness–deserve the best nutrition we have to offer.

When it comes to feeding geriatric horses, "One size doesn’t fit all," says Joe Pagan, PhD, president of Kentucky Equine Research, an equine nutrition research and consultation company based in Versailles, Ky. Meeting those individual needs of your geriatric horse is up to you.

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Written by:

Michelle Anderson is the former digital managing editor at The Horse. A lifelong horse owner, Anderson competes in dressage and enjoys trail riding. She’s a Washington State University graduate and holds a bachelor’s degree in communications with a minor in business administration and extensive coursework in animal sciences. She has worked in equine publishing since 1998. She currently lives with her husband on a small horse property in Central Oregon.

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