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Elder horse care in summer --opinions wanted !!

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    Elder horse care in summer --opinions wanted !!

    Hail Caesar is near 30 years old --OTTB. He has few teeth, but does manage to eat hay in the winter and grass in the summer. He is on the maximum amount of ADM Senior/Healthy Glo recommended, along with Red Cell. He has arthritis in all joints from a long, long career as a 3-Day horse. Other than walk a bit stiff, he seems comfortable. Here's the question --

    It is hot out --really hot and humid --choices for Caesar are:

    1) Twenty-three hour (he comes in to eat) turnout on his 20 acre lovely grassy pasture with a 3 sided shed, an acre of thick trees for shade in his full fly sheet, boots, mask ---when I do this (he has a buddy), Caesar seems to park himself inside the shed, and stand and sweat all day. He cannot be out without his fly covers as he is sensitive to fly bites . . .

    2) Keep Caesar in during the day, 12 hours. I do have a stable where he has a 13 x 13 stall --deeply bedded, cleaned twice a day. I have giant fans that keep it very, very cool and very pleasant. When I put Caesar in (buddy in the stall beside him where they can visit through grill, Caesar stands. He won't eat hay, or grain. He just stands. A few times when doing noon check, I find him prone and asleep.

    I did ask the vet --he said it was "best for horses to be outside as much as possible." He was non-committal about Caesar specifically --said, "When they are this old, you have to do things differently sometimes." --oh, thanks, doc.

    Meanwhile --if I put Caesar out during the day, I feel like he's not eating or drinking, just standing and sweating. If I leave him in --he's still not eating or drinking, but he's not standing and sweating.

    Doing a night check --it does appear that Caesar and his buddy are traversing the pasture and eating grass various places during the night. How much? I don't know.

    Would you keep Caesar in or put him out with his fly gear? Is there a 3rd option I'm not seeing?

    It’s tough. I have a 34 year old TB with no teeth, inconsistent sweating, and a breathing problem. He does not handle the heat well. I have to leave him in, which means I have to leave all my herd bound ninnies in with him. You do what you have to do. It sounds like your guy might be happier in.
    Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO


      My four late 20s horses are all happier inside during the day. They don't handle the heat well (2 have Cushings) and the bugs just drive them batty. They can't wait to get to their fans in the morning.

      I find my guys will not lay down outside, but will take a nice long, flat out nap in their stalls.

      It really just depends on the individual horse.


        I'd lean toward overnight turnout with his buddy for Caesar.
        That satisfies the vet's "out as much as possible" recommendation.

        Sleeping flat out in his stall seems to indicate he's relaxed.
        Can you try tempting him to eat inside with hay/alfalfa cubes? Soaked if needed, but they won't ferment like beet pulp might if uneaten.

        The oldsters sure give us (more) gray hair!
        *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
        Steppin' Out 1988-2004
        Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
        Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


          We have always brought horses in during daylight hour in summer. Much less fly biting, stomping, and they have fans on them. They just do not settle when outside in summer daylight. They are waiting or come right over to the gates when they see us in the morning, wanting to come inside. Outside the flies keep them moving constantly. Things are much quieter when they come inside for the day. They are also handy if you want to use them, no trekking to the field, with possible difficulty catching them because they "know" you will be working them!

          My older horse got body clipped in summer when she did not shed well after age 30. She had wet hay cubes inside to nibble. She could be in alone or in company, never cared if alone.

          I would bring him in with his friend. You can offer the food, keep his water full. I like to hear he does lay down inside at times, but just being shaded, the flies are much less of an irritant, has the fan, he is not sweaty. All GOOD things when I look at a horse. He moves around at night, grazes, less insects in the dark, cooler temps while outside.

          I would certainly like to keep an older horse out to move freely, but not always the best choice when they show me such a marked physical difference between daylight outside and daylight inside.

          I would bring him inside during the days. If it cools any, you might bring him in later, turnout earlier, not being adamant on a 12hrs in and out.


            I would leave him in during the day. Sounds like he is essentially putting himself “in” in the run-in shed anyway, and the stall certainly sounds cooler and more comfortable for him.


              I would leave him inside during the day.
              As is our confidence, so is our capacity. ~W. Hazlitt


                Mine have free choice - their stalls open up to the pasture.

                When it is hot, they spend all day IN their stalls, as their heads up against the fans.

                If they couldn't have free choice, I would keep them in their stalls, with fans, during the day.

                Mine are 9, 24, and 34.

                chief feeder and mucker for Music, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now). Spy is gone. April 15, 1982 to Jan 10, 2019.


                  Is there a possibility of making his stall in and out, like to a paddock? That's what my old men have, both Cushings, one very heat and bug sensitive. When it gets hot here (which isn't often, but we do get 90+ days in a row), I put the fans on and the boys are confined to their large sacrifice paddocks with access to their stalls/fans. They do have an overhang on the barn that allows them to stand outside in the shade if they prefer, or in the hot sun outside, but the sensitive one will camp in his stall in front of his fan. I put hay in the stall and the overhang for choices.
                  Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


                    I agree with everyone else. It sounds like he’s happier inside during the day.
                    I would probably offer some soaked hay cubes while he’s in.


                      Original Poster

                      Thank you! I will continue to leave him in. A "new door" to an outside paddock is not an option as the lower half of the barn is cement block. I think he's happiest in ---as someone said, he seems to "put himself in" when he is out, standing in his run-in shed. Thank you again.