Nutrition for Veteran Horses
The older horse can be an absolute joy but has specific issues and nutritional needs which must be addressed. Your wonderful horse can lead a happy and healthy life if you are careful about their diet and wellbeing.
Fibre is the foundation of the proper diet for all horses. However, it can be hard to ensure that older horses receive the fibre they need as their worn or missing teeth can make chewing difficult. Long stem sources of fibre like hay are problematic so it is best to provide a fast-soaking fibre feed which is easier to eat. Soak the fibre in warm water during the winter months to create an inviting and warming treat for your horse.
Most older horses should receive a higher level of protein than their younger counterparts. This promotes the repair and maintenance of body tissues. Look for feeds which feature soya bean and linseed which are excellent sources of protein. But get your horse checked by your vet because liver or kidney issues could mean that a low protein diet is more appropriate.
Vitamins and Minerals
The right balance of vitamins and minerals is essential. The easiest way to ensure that you provide everything that your horse needs is to choose a bagged feed which you should offer at the recommended levels.
Most older horses will require extra dietary support in order to maintain their weight and to provide sufficient energy to cope with exercise and work. If your horse is struggling to maintain his weight, choose a high calorie veteran feed. Good doers may not need this and could even require a low calorie feed if they are to avoid gaining weight.
Your horse’s health can deteriorate quickly and so it is important to constantly monitor their condition. In the winter months, their longer coat can easily conceal weight loss. Routine checks will uncover problems before they become serious issues.
Dehydration is always a danger and can lead to poor performance and a risk of colic. Always ensure that your veteran horse has access to fresh water and if they are reluctant to drink it, add a little flavour to make it more tempting. A soaked feed is a great way to bolster hydration.
Flavours to Savour
Some older horses may become fussy eaters so feeds flavoured with herbs are a great idea. Horses love mint and fenugreek but you will soon discover what tickles your animal’s fancy!
Pre- and Probiotics
Veteran horses can suffer from reduced digestive function. Equine feed which contains pre- and probiotics can provide the boost they need. Pre- and probiotics help with fibre digestion by enhancing the balance of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Your horse can then make the most of the nutrients in their diet.
Please check with your vet or nutritionist to make sure your horse's individual needs are covered.
Shop our at Equi Supermarket to find the right feeds and supplements for your veteran.