PC: Valerie Everett at Flickr
Exercise is important regardless of age, but those with senior horses need to consider a few additional points. If your horse is in his twenties, it might be time to evaluate his exercise regiment and ensure you’re adequately meeting his needs.
A senior horse is likely to become exhausted more quickly, compared to his younger self. His heart can’t physically beat as fast as it once could. Additionally, he is likely to take longer to cool down.
His joints may become swollen or stiff during cold weather or after being stall kept for a night. Joint supplements may keep an arthritic horse comfortable, but mild to moderate exercise can also be helpful. Consider the following:
- Each sessions should include a long warm up and cool down, especially when the temperatures are cold or he has been stall kept for hours.
- Try to provide as much natural turnout as possible. His joints will be appreciative, as grazing requires slow walking.
- Intense exercise should be avoided during very hot or humid days.
- Build up workouts slowly and carefully, to ensure his body is adequately conditioned.
- Consider the fit of your saddle. His topline may begin to change and require further padding.
- Ask your veterarian to evaluate your horse and help come up with a exercise program that will benefit him.
- Keep a close eye on joints and tendons for swelling, heat, and pain.
- In hot weather, cool him off with water applied over his neck and body. Make sure he has the opportunity to drink fresh water, as well.
- Pay close attention to his diet and his body weight.
Your senior horse is likely to enjoy and benefit from mild to moderate exercise. With careful observation, you can keep him fit and happy through a proper training regiment.