Equine nutritionist Rachel Parrot of Allen & Page sets out some healthy feeding advice for older horses:-
1. Provide good levels of fibre in the diet– fibre maintains digestive function and supplies a source of internal heat. If your veteran struggles to chew long forage, offer a high-fibre soaked feed.
2. Weigh and body condition score your horse on a regular basis. Keep a record so you can quickly spot any changes.
3. Feed according to weight and workload. While weight loss is common in older horses, there are also many good doers who will benefit from a low-calorie, high-fibre feed.
4. Get your horse’s teeth checked regularly by a qualified equine dental technician.
5. Review the needs of those with laminitis or Cushing’s disease – they require a high-fibre, low-starch and low-sugar diet.
6. Consider those with kidney or liver problems – provide a low-protein, low-fat diet for horses with liver issues and a low-protein, low-calcium and low-phosphorus diet for horses with kidney problems
7. Offer small, frequent meals to horses struggling with their appetite– herbs such as fenugreek and mint can tempt fussy feeders.
8. Pre and probiotics improve the balance of beneficial bacteria in the gut
9. Provide a balanced feed containing quality protein, vitamins and minerals and essential fatty acids – omega 3 (found in linseed) and 6 (provided by soya) support the immune response and provide anti-inflammatory properties, aiding mobility as well as improving coat condition
10. Provide turnout and/or exercise where possible to relieve stiff joints– for those stabled, ensure there is ample room, ventilation and good bedding for comfort.
11. Keep an eye on your horse in the field – older horses have a tendency to drop down the pecking order and as generally slower eaters, the amount of food they eat can be affected.
Love Horse Riding? Sign up to our emails for the latest news and special offers!
Ever fancied being famous? If you would like your equine partner to appear in the pages of Horse magazine, then read on and find out how to apply...
Got a Horse magazine problem? Looking for a phone number or email address to ask someone for help? Click here to find the right person