Your Guide to Equine Health Care

When is an Older Horse Ready for Senior Feed?

As horses age, they might require additional nutritional support. Get advice for feeding senior horses.

When is an Older Horse Ready for Senior Feed?
If your older horse is struggling to maintain condition despite eating plenty of good quality forage, and your veterinarian has determined that there are no underlying issues that need to be addressed, you might need to consider senior feed. | Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse

Q: My horse will be 18 years old in the new year. At what age should a horse start on senior feed?

A: There’s no correct age to start using a senior feed. Some horses never need a senior feed even into their late 20s, while others benefit from a senior feed in their early teen years.

It’s interesting to look at what defines a senior horse. You can look at age in a couple of different ways. There’s the actual age of the horse based on birthdate, and there’s also physiologic age, which relates to physiologic function. Several researchers have used 20 years as a cut-off for determining that a horse is a senior. Most of us can think of a horse or a human who seems older than their years and vice

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Written by:

Clair Thunes, PhD, is an equine nutritionist who owns Clarity Equine Nutrition, based in Gilbert, Arizona. She works as a consultant with owners/trainers and veterinarians across the United States and globally to take the guesswork out of feeding horses and provides services to select companies. As a nutritionist she works with all equids, from WEG competitors to Miniature donkeys and everything in between. Born in England, she earned her undergraduate degree at Edinburgh University, in Scotland, and her master’s and doctorate in nutrition at the University of California, Davis. Growing up, she competed in a wide array of disciplines and was an active member of the U.K. Pony Club. Today, she serves as the district commissioner for the Salt River Pony Club.

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