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Caring for Senior Horses

Image of an old horse.

With proactive veterinary care, horses can live well into their late 20s and early 30s. In fact, the average life expectancy for most horses is now between 28 and 33 years. Basic senior wellness care includes dental care, balanced nutrition, and hoof care. This care ensures horses remain healthy and active.

Exercise

Older horses can still be active; in fact, regular exercise is essential for horses to maintain their health. However, it is important to keep in mind that older horses may not be as agile as they once were, so all day trail rides, jumping or sliding stops should be avoided. Rather than a long hard ride once per week, senior horses will benefit from several short rides throughout the week. However, if a horse becomes arthritic or otherwise unsound due to lameness, the owner may need to significantly cut back on load-bearing exercise.

Diet

As a horse ages, his diet will also need to be adjusted. Older horses do not absorb nutrients as readily as younger horses, so horse feed needs to be of a higher quality that can easily be digested. Hay cubes and other course forms of hay may be especially difficult for older horses to chew. As workload or exercise levels decrease, senior horses are also at risk for weight gain. Feeding should be carefully regulated to maintain your horse’s balanced nutrition intake and a healthy weight.

Dental Care

Older horses’ teeth also require additional care. Some teeth may wear into painful points or fall out, which can make it difficult and uncomfortable for your horse to chew. If a lot of grain or hay falls from a horse’s mouth while chewing, this is symptomatic that the horse may need their teeth checked. In general, a horse should have their teeth checked at least once every year; senior horses may require additional dental care.

Other Common Issues

Horse owners should keep a close eye on their horses’ overall health. For example, lumps under the skin could be indicative of tumors. Melanomas are increasingly common on light colored horses. Horses that do not shed out in the spring may have Cushings Disease, a pituitary gland dysfunction. Older horses are also more susceptible to colic. The earlier health problems are diagnosed, the more treatment options are available, which will lessen the impact on your horse’s health. A regular wellness evaluation by your equine veterinarian will help ensure your senior horse remains healthy and active.

Source:

Johnson,Edward L.; Duberstein, Kylee Jo; and Shuffitt, Mark. “Caring for the Older Horse: Common Problems and Solutions.” University of Florida.

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Practice Hours

Our Regular Schedule

Monday:

9:30 am-5:00 pm

Tuesday:

9:30 am-5:00 pm

Wednesday:

9:30 am-5:00 pm

Thursday:

9:30 am-5:00 pm

Friday:

9:30 am-5:00 pm

Saturday:

Flexible Schedule

Sunday:

Flexible Schedule

  • "They took great care of my mare! I was able to set up payment over the phone and I got a detailed email with records of what they did and recommendations for future care. I’m pretty impressed with how affordable it was considering the level of care! I’ll definitely be using them from now on."
    Kayleigh Ann L.
  • "Very thorough and just all around wonderful! Took excellent care of my sweet horse!"
    Jennifer C.
  • "For people that take their horses dental health seriously, these are the best care providers & teachers I have found. Their passion about the science of equine dental health is second to none!"
    Dawn B.
  • "Kari,
    Thank you for the great work you did on our horses yesterday. This older mare with the front teeth problem and tongue hanging out is doing great. She is much, much more comfortable eating. Charlie is also doing much better today, visibly more comfortable eating. Thank you for a great job, my horses are so much happier today - makes me feel good to see that."
    Andrea B.
  • "Dear Dr. Marx and Lisa, too,

    This is just to let you know that you have made a huge difference to our old horse's well-being. He is chewing so much better and no longer drops his grain or leaves wads of hay on the ground. Thank you, thank you. We are delighted to have found out about you and the important and great work you do.
    With sincere gratitude,"
    Margot H.
  • "Scott Marx is not only knowledge and talented but he is kind, funny, easy to work with and reasonably priced. You pay for what you get and with Dr. Marx, you get the BEST! He has been my horses’ dentist for 16 years and I hope he will continue to be for the next 16+!"
    Catherine J.
  • "Awesome service- fantastic Equine Dentist!! I will be using them as a regular client."
    Greg S.
  • "Wonderful work. I trust them completely with my horses teeth. Will never use anyone else."
    Jessica P
  • "Dr. Kari Sanderson treated my horse and was wonderful! She explained everything she did and was very patient. I will use them going forward and will recommend them to all of my friends."
    Jessica S.
  • "Very professional and caring. Dr. Sanderson and her assistant took the time my gelding needed to make him comfortable. In addition, she took the time to show me everything she saw, talked through what was done, and future recommendations. Thank you so much for coming to take care of my boy!"
    Audrey A.