When it comes to feeding senior horses, there are many factors to consider to support longevity and healthy aging.

Making sure your horse’s core nutritional needs are met and keeping up with routine healthcare are critical to promoting optimal well-being for many more years to come.

Horses are typically considered “senior” after 20 years of age. However, chronological age isn’t always the best indicator of their health status.

The exact age that classifies a horse as “senior” can vary depending on a multitude of factors such as the horse’s environment, genetics, nutrition and health history over their lifetime.

Looking at a combination of the horse’s chronological and physiological age is generally considered the most accurate indicator of aging in horses. [1]

Some horses remain very active into their late twenties, whereas other horses may exhibit signs of aging earlier in their late teens.

Common indicators of physiological aging include:

  • Decrease in muscle mass
  • Decline in coat quality
  • Poor dentition
  • Decline in comfort and mobility

Formulating a well-balanced diet that supports healthy aging is critical for senior horses. It is particularly important to accommodates changes in health status such as poor dentition or gut health problems.

You can submit your horse’s diet for a free evaluation by our equine nutritionists who can help formulate an age-appropriate diet for your horse.

Nutritional Needs of Senior Horses

Nutritional programs for senior horses will vary greatly depending on the presence of any underlying health conditions. Healthy senior horses with no medical conditions may see excellent results on a similar diet to what they were fed during their mature years.

Many senior horses can maintain a healthy condition on a well-balanced diet and their energy and protein needs may not change significantly as they age. This is especially true if their work level decreases significantly, such as in retirement from a career in competition.

When certain health conditions are present that hinder nutrient absorption, or interfere with normal metabolic function, the digestion of typical feedstuffs like hay can be impacted.

Examples of such issues include poor dental health, chronic loose manure, and metabolic conditions such as Cushing’s / PPID.

In these situations, feeds that are easier to digest are needed to maintain optimal body condition. Specially-designed senior feeds and/or hay replacement feeds may be needed.

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