There are many causes of lameness in aging horses, such as chronic laminitis (founder), arthritis or stiffness from weakened bones due to demineralization. Veterinary care is important in diagnosing the cause of lameness and alleviating pain.
Here are some suggestions for managing older horses with chronic lameness:
- Avoid obesity and heavy loads, because extra weight burdens aging joints, tendons and ligaments. Overweight horses may also be prone to laminitis.
- Have a reliable farrier provide routine hoof care every six to eight weeks.
- Provide regular, moderate exercise (if approved by your veterinarian). Gradual workouts at least four times a week are recommended. Avoid abrupt changes in exercise duration or intensity. Ride or walk on softer surfaces such as grass or light, sandy soil if lameness is a problem.
The objective for nutrition is to provide a balanced diet with more calories from fat and fiber (as opposed to calories from starch/sugars), along with adequate high-quality protein and an appropriate vitamin and mineral balance to meet the aging horse's needs. Some horses may also benefit from a high-quality oral joint supplement, such as Purina® FreedomFlexTM Joint Health Product.
In summary, providing a high-quality, nutritionally balanced senior horse feed to meet the special needs of the aging horse, such as Purina® Equine Senior® horse feed, Purina® Equine Senior® Active Healthy Edge® horse feed or Purina® WellSolve L/S® horse feed, in coordination with an overall health and management program as recommended by your veterinarian, will help ensure that your horse will live comfortably in good health for as long as possible.