Feeding The Geriatric Horse

Rusty’s been your faithful companion for many years, and he never seemed to show any signs of getting older…until this past winter, that is. One morning, you looked at him and noticed that he had dropped some weight, and that he didn’t

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Rusty’s been your faithful companion for many years, and he never seemed to show any signs of getting older…until this past winter, that is. One morning, you looked at him and noticed that he had dropped some weight, and that he didn’t demonstrate his usual enthusiasm for his breakfast. What grain he did sample, he tended to dribble out of the corners of his mouth, largely unchewed. Gradually, hay began to present a problem as well, and your old friend struggled to grind the fibrous forage. Although otherwise he seemed fine–he wasn’t lame, didn’t run a fever or look depressed, and greeted you with the same calm equanimity he’d always shown–his weight loss started to concern you. How could you help your 20-something equine get more value from his food and regain his former round physique?







Feeding older horses
SHAWN HAMILTON


Be willing to experiment to see what your older horse likes, and what he finds easy to eat.

If you have a geriatric horse in your barn, you probably recognize Rusty’s symptoms. Loss of condition is probably the most common problem in the older horse, and it stems from a combination of factors. Designing a feed program to meet the special requirements of your aging horse is possible only when we understand the physiological–and psychological–changes going on throughout his system

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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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