such as when you notice your horse is slightly more lethargic than usual, or his
hair coat seems a little longer and takes more time to shed out. By the time a
horse with Cushing’s looks like a yak, he is well into advanced stages.
/ Body Condition /
Body condition score must be monitored regularly to discourage obesity in any
/ Musculoskeletal Issues /
age horse, but especially in the older horse.
For a weight-loss diet, you will need to reduce the number of calories your
horse takes in. Specifically, a horse should receive only 70 percent of mainte-
nance food requirements. Grass hay is the best choice, and it should be weighed
on a scale so you know the exact amount that is being fed. Also, a fat horse or an
insulin-resistant horse should not have access to pasture or be fed grain.
Helping a horse to maintain a good body condition score is also key musculo-
/ Arthritis /
skeletal health and comfort.
This is especially true of joints that have age and use-related wear and tear
and arthritis. A horse carrying around extra pounds amplifies the stress on his
joints; fat itself acts as a hormone that produces inflammatory effects through-
out the body.
An old horse that experiences arthritic
pain is often not as eager to compete
for food with younger horses. He’ll fare
better if fed separately to eat at his own
speed. Many old horses tire of eating
before finishing, and instead wander off
for a nap. It’s important that the food
still be there when the horse returns.
Helping an arthritic horse have a
good quality of life is very important.
Systemic anti-inflammatory medica-
tions given intravenously, intramus-
cularly, and/or orally, as well as the
use of joint injections can improve a
For chronically sore joints, icing the
area after turnout or exercise may
help your horse feel better. Transform-
ing nagging pain into a distant throb
SENIOR SYSTEMS CHECK
The most common issues in
geriatric horses* are: