The Ultimate Guide To Feeding Your Senior Horse

As your horse ages, you may notice changes in him. These changes may include a loss of muscle mass, weight gain and hair coat changes. 

While aging is natural, there are things you can do to help maintain the health of your senior horse. A healthy diet is one way to keep your senior horse happy and active as he gets older.

Feeding the Senior Horse: WEBINAR Recording
Feeding a senior horse requires careful attention to their specific dietary needs and changes in metabolic function.
Regular veterinary check-ups are essential to help identify potential health issues early on, making it easier to address them before they become more severe.
Managing a senior horse’s weight can be challenging, but limiting access to lush pasture, providing high-fiber feed options, and avoiding overfeeding can help keep them healthy.
Supplements that support joint health, gut health, and overall immune function can be beneficial for senior horses.
Senior horses are at increased risk for a variety of age-related health issues, including arthritis, dental problems, and metabolic disorders, which can be addressed by starting routine preventive practices and having regular visits with their veterinarian.

Age Is An Invisible Disability

Seniority is a disability. As your horse ages, he or she becomes more prone to injury and disease. You should always be on the lookout for signs of pain and discomfort, as well as changes in behavior that could indicate problems.

Don’t assume an older horse is healthy just because they look okay when you see them at pasture or in the barnyard (or even worse, assume they’re fine because you’ve had them around forever). If a senior animal isn’t thriving, then something needs to change!

Don’t assume an older horse is happy just because he seems content most days–they may simply have learned not to complain about their health issues out loud unless there’s really no other choice (like having surgery). 

Look for subtle cues like drooping ears or tailhead twitching; if these are present consistently over time without any change in diet/environment etc., then it might mean something is wrong under those blankets!

Taking care of a senior horse can be challenging, as health issues arise more frequently. However, regular vet check-ups can help identify issues early on before they become more severe.

Maintaining Muscle Mass In Older Horses

When you think of an older horse, it’s easy to imagine a thin and frail animal. But this isn’t always the case. In fact, maintaining muscle mass is important for mobility and strength as well as weight loss.

If you have a senior citizen in your pasture or barn, there are some steps that can be taken to help keep their muscles strong:

  • Ensure they continue working at least once per week by riding them or teaching them new tricks like backing up. This will help keep their joints healthy while keeping them engaged mentally as well–an important part of aging!
  • Feed high-quality hay (like Timothy/orchard) along with good grasses such as cereal rye orchardgrass blend).
TriSport by Kentucky Equine ResearchProvides essential amino acids, including lysine, methionine, and threonine, which are important for protein synthesis and muscle maintenance.
Amplify by PurinaEnhanced with high-fat rice bran, flaxseed, and vegetable oils that promote weight gain in senior horses while preserving muscle mass.

Note: The brand names used above are just examples and not an endorsement or recommendation. Please consult with a veterinarian before incorporating any supplement into your senior horse’s diet. Additionally, exercise and proper nutrition are also crucial aspects of maintaining muscle mass in older horses.

Age Is Not A Disease

There is a common misconception that age is a disease, but it’s not. Age is simply a state of being. Just like humans, horses can be healthy and happy well into their senior years.

It’s also important to remember that age does not equal disability or handicap either–just because your horse has reached an advanced age does not mean he won’t be able to do what he loves anymore! In fact, some older horses may enjoy riding more than ever before because they’ve learned how much fun it can be!

Maintaining the health and well-being of a senior horse is essential. One of the most important ways to accomplish this is through regular veterinary check-ups, which can help catch and address any potential problems early on.

Feeding The Aging Horse

As horses age, they need a lower protein diet. Older horses also require more calories and calcium, phosphorus and vitamin E. A higher level of Vitamin C may also be beneficial for an older horse because it helps to protect against infections such as colic or laminitis. 

Finally, vitamin A deficiency can cause night blindness so make sure that you’re not feeding your senior with an inadequate amount of this important nutrient!

Supplements For The Senior Horse

Vitamin E: Vitamin E is an antioxidant that can help control free radicals and prevent cell damage. It’s also thought to promote healthy skin and coat, as well as reduce inflammation.

Vitamin C: This vitamin plays a role in immune function, tissue repair, wound healing and helps maintain healthy cartilage. In addition to being an antioxidant it aids in collagen production which keeps joints healthy.

Calcium: Calcium is an essential mineral for bone health but also helps regulate heartbeat, nerve function, muscle contraction/relaxation as well as blood clotting (1). 

If you have been feeding your senior horse all his life then he may not need additional calcium supplements unless he has lost weight since retiring from work because excess amounts of this mineral can cause digestive upset leading to diarrhea or colic which is why its best not overdo things here either! 

If however your pet has been underweight since retiring then increasing his daily intake by 1 gram per pound could help him regain some weight before any serious health issues develop down the road such as osteoporosis where bones become fragile due too little density being produced inside them…not good news folks!

Vitamin E (Elevate W.S. by Kentucky Equine Research, SmartE by SmartPak)Antioxidant that controls free radicals and promotes healthy skin and coat.
Vitamin C (C-1000 Double Strength by Nature’s Plus, Tri-Amino by Uckele)Boosts immune function, aids in tissue repair and wound healing, promotes healthy cartilage with added collagen production.

Note: The brand names used above are just examples and not an endorsement or recommendation. Please consult with a veterinarian before incorporating any supplement into your senior horse’s diet.

Dental Care For The Aging Horse

Dental care is a crucial aspect of senior horse care, but it’s often overlooked. Just like humans, horses can experience dental problems as they age–and the lack of proper dental hygiene can lead to serious health issues.

Here are some tips for keeping your senior horse’s teeth healthy:

Brush their teeth daily using a soft bristle brush or toothpaste designed specifically for equines. You may need to use a hoof pick first if there is any food stuck in between the molars (the large bumps on either side of their mouth). 

If your vet approves, you might also consider using an enzymatic cleanser or paste twice weekly; this will help remove plaque while also promoting good breath!

Avoid feeding excessive sugars or carbohydrates (like grain) since these foods can cause tooth decay over time due to high acidity levels in saliva after eating them which then leads down into inflammation within gums leading up towards infection (which could eventually spread through bloodstream causing organ failure). 

Instead opt for grass hay feedings whenever possible; this will allow horses’ mouths stay healthy since these types contain less sugar than other types such as sweet feeds which might cause problems later down road due improper dental care being taken care off properly beforehand.”

Feeding a senior horse can be challenging, but it is crucial to meet their unique dietary needs. Check out our ultimate guide to feeding your senior horse for comprehensive information on what and how much to feed your horse.

Dealing With Weight Loss In Older Horses

Weight loss is normal in older horses. As they age, they may lose muscle mass and body fat. This can lead to a decrease in energy levels, making them less active and more susceptible to disease or injury.

If you notice your horse has lost weight or seems less energetic than usual, it’s important to take action right away so that he doesn’t become too thin.

Caring For The Older Horse’s Hooves

A hoof boot is a protective cover that protects the hoof from trauma and pressure, as well as providing traction. 

If you’ve ever seen a horse’s bare footprint in mud or sand, it’s easy to understand how important this is. 

Without protection, the sole of the foot can become damaged over time–and even cracked or broken if conditions are particularly harsh (such as when walking on rocks). Hoof boots help prevent this by supporting and protecting both sides of your horse’s foot at all times during turnout periods.

A good pair of boots will also offer support for older horses who may have lost some mobility in their limbs due to arthritis or other joint issues; this can make it easier for them to move around without slipping on slick surfaces like ice or snow while also helping them maintain their balance while standing still in slippery conditions like rain puddles! 

Finally: comfort! Many older horses suffer from soreness after being ridden hard throughout years past; wearing proper footwear allows them more freedom without pain so everyone wins here 🙂

BenefitHoof Boot Options
Provides protection and supportEasyCare Old Mac’s G2, Cavallo Simple Boot, Scoot Boot, Renegade Viper Hoof Boot
Prevents hoof trauma and pressureEquine Fusion Ultra Jogging Shoes, Soft Ride Comfort Boots
Offers better tractionDavis Barrier Boot, Renegade Classic Hoof Boot, Cavallo Trek Hoof Boot

Hoof boots are a valuable option for senior horses as they can protect their hooves from trauma and pressure while also providing better traction during turnout periods. The EasyCare Old Mac’s G2, Cavallo Simple Boot, Scoot Boot, and Renegade Viper Hoof Boot all offer reliable protection and support, while the Equine Fusion Ultra Jogging Shoes and Soft Ride Comfort Boots are designed specifically for older horses.

The Davis Barrier Boot, Renegade Classic Hoof Boot, and Cavallo Trek Hoof Boot are also excellent options that offer better traction and protection for senior horses.

What Are Some Common Diseases Of Older Horses?

As your horse ages, he will begin to experience some of the same health issues that humans do. Aging is a normal process that happens to all living things, but it’s important for you as an owner and caretaker of your senior horse to be able to recognize signs of aging in order to take preventative measures against future problems.

It’s also important for you as an owner/caretaker of a senior horse not only because it can help keep them healthy but also because sometimes it can be difficult for older horses who have been retired from riding competitions or working on farms because they are no longer able to perform these tasks anymore due to physical limitations caused by age-related diseases like arthritis or degenerative joint disease (DJD).

Many senior horses require supplements to ensure their health and vitality. If you’re looking for information on supplements, check out our article on the top 15 supplements every horse owner should know about to learn more about how they can benefit your horse.

Equine Digestive Aids For Senior Horses

There are a number of equine digestive aids that can be used to keep your senior horse healthy and comfortable. 

These products contain essential vitamins and minerals, as well as probiotics that help maintain the digestive system. They also support the immune system, preventing colic and keeping diarrhea at bay.

Some products also contain herbs such as fennel seed or slippery elm bark that are known to have anti-inflammatory properties; this can help reduce symptoms such as gas pain or bloating, making it easier for the horse to eat without discomfort or pain in their gut area.

Proper hoof care is essential to keep senior horses healthy and able to move comfortably. Our article on hoof care 101 provides insight into some of the most important steps to managing your horse’s hooves and addressing common issues.


It’s important to remember that age is not a disease and it doesn’t mean that your horse is sick. In fact, there are many things you can do to help maintain the health of your senior horse and keep him happy and comfortable in his older years.

Further Reading

Here are some additional resources that can provide additional information related to feeding senior horses:

How to Feed a Senior Horse: This article from Mad Barn provides a detailed overview of the unique nutritional needs of senior horses and how to meet them through thoughtful feeding strategies.

Feeding Senior Horse: This resource from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach offers information on how to manage and feed senior horses, emphasizing best practices for long-term health.

Senior Horse: Spillers offers useful information on some of the key nutritional needs of senior horses and how to meet them, as well as practical tips on how to maintain their overall health.


What should I feed my senior horse?

Senior horses require a balanced diet that includes plenty of fiber, protein, and essential nutrients. Feeding a combination of hay, fortified grains, and supplements can help meet these needs.

How do I manage my senior horse’s weight?

Weight management for senior horses can be challenging, as metabolic changes can make it challenging to maintain a healthy balance. Limiting access to lush pasture, providing high-fiber feed options, and avoiding overfeeding can help keep your horse healthy.

How often should I feed my senior horse?

While the exact frequency of feeding may vary depending on your horse’s individual needs, feeding senior horses at least three to four times a day (with a minimum of two feedings) can help ensure that they receive the nutrients they need throughout the day.

What supplements should I consider giving my senior horse?

Supplements that support joint health, gut health, and overall immune function are often recommended for senior horses. Glucosamine, chondroitin, probiotics, and prebiotics are just a few examples of beneficial supplements.

What are some common senior horse health issues to watch out for?

Senior horses are at increased risk for a variety of age-related health issues, including arthritis, dental problems, and metabolic disorders. Regular veterinary check-ups can help identify these issues early on and ensure that your horse receives the right treatment.