The Horse

SEP 2018

The Horse:Your Guide To Equine Health Care provides monthly equine health care information to horse owners, breeders, veterinarians, barn/farm managers, trainer/riding instructors, and others involved in the hands-on care of the horse.

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18 THE HORSE September 2018 SARAH EVERS CONRAD PHOTOS BY PAULA DA SILVA/ARND.NL I n barns across America horse owners are talking about their senior horses. They're posting photos of them on social me- dia platforms and asking questions about their care in online forums. Meanwhile, veterinarians are noticing an increase in senior patients in their practices, and researchers are discovering an upward trend in senior horse population numbers. With all the old horses out there, it's important to recognize the financial obliga- tion involved with owning one, because, as horses age, health care needs and their cost can increase depending on what conditions arise. Armed with an understanding of the array of health problems that can crop up and how to monitor for and man- age them, owners can mitigate the costs and enjoy their senior horses well into their golden years. In this article we'll review senior horse research studies and hear from veterinar- ians about what conditions these horses face and how husbandry requirements change across their life span. Defining Old Age First things first: What is a senior horse? Mary Rose Paradis, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVIM, associate professor emerita at Tufts University's Cummings School of Veteri- nary Medicine, in North Grafton, Massachusetts, says researchers around the world disagree on the age a horse is considered old. Various researchers in England and Australia have completed studies with senior horses starting at age 15, while others have used horses age 20 and older. Paradis has been studying younger horses and comparing their health data to that of older horses, looking for trends in disease progression. In one of her studies she surveyed U.S. owners, asking them when they thought their horses were starting to show signs of aging—the average response was 23. Researchers in England and Australia reported seeing early degenerative changes most frequently around 18 to 19 in some, but not all, study horses. As a guideline, Paradis suggests considering your horse aging around 18 to 20 years and having your veterinarian get health baselines for future reference. The Price of Longevity Owning a horse over his lifetime can be rewarding, but be prepared for specific costs related to his care

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