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When you realize your horse is getting old

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  • When you realize your horse is getting old

    My sweet old TB is getting up there in age.

    He has a great life, ridden lightly 3 or 4 times a week....on good grass twelve hours of the day, alfalfa hay or pellets, Pennfield grain, flax...regular vet, dental, deworming, farrier, etc.

    This spring is the first time that I have noticed that he is having a hard time keeping weight on. My other two (not seniors) are having to have their grain cut back...this guy is having his grain increased (fed three times a day) and still won't put any weight on. He is not "thin", but a hint of rib is showing.

    He's also been battling a corneal ulcer (now healed) that came on after conjunctivitis and is having heaves due to allergies.

    Vet has recently looked at him and told me to start wetting all his food and left me with a bottle of Dexamethasone if he doesn't stop coughing (cough has gotten better)

    But..he just mentally seems old this spring. A few dementia type moments.....BM said that she drove the mule in the barn before turnout yesterday and all of a sudden he just started hollering (his friends were in the stalls across from him as normal). I've noticed he just isn't quite all there anymore...duller to ride, spacey at times.

    I do need to get a blood panel pulled....but do any of the COTH experts have any words of wisdom. I am a realist about it...He's in his 20s and has had a great life....I know he's getting old...but just curious if there is anything I should be doing and should I be worried about the weight? As I said, he is not thin, but not as heavy as he usually is in the spring. Probably about 100 pounds lighter this spring.

  • #2
    I hear ya...

    Well, my old TB mare was old when I got her...don't even know her age. Major battle going on right now to get/keep weight on her...your guy sounds pretty good but you are wise to stay on top of the weight situation.

    Comment


    • #3
      It is always hard when friends really start to age. There are of diet changes you can explore to see if a different ration will help maintain or slow down his weight issues. I make my own senior ration but have also in the past had better results for this horse or that horse on this feed or that feed. It is all about figuring out what they need.

      It sounds like he is beginning his final months or year based on his checked out mental state. That means using certain drugs that you would never consider for a younger horse due to long term use side effects are fair game. I gave one of our very old horses a final summer and fall of sweet retirement on a $10 bottle of dex. My vet suggested this. He had come thru winter just fine, old of coures but fine. But by late spring I was noticing weight issues and more...much like the checked out mentality you are talking of. So I started the dialogue with the vet about the last act of kindness I could give this horse. He agreed the time was coming but suggested I try the dex 1st....as I could possibly give him the summer and fall of qualtiy life. The vet was right.

      I feel for you. I have one very old cat just now. She went deaf last year and now a tad touched in the head. She always was a mouthy talker. But now she can not even hear herself and a little too off in the head to stop meowing for food even tho I just fed her. It is sad but I now in the next few months her time will be coming too.

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        Originally posted by D Taylor View Post
        It is always hard when friends really start to age. There are of diet changes you can explore to see if a different ration will help maintain or slow down his weight issues. I make my own senior ration but have also in the past had better results for this horse or that horse on this feed or that feed. It is all about figuring out what they need.

        It sounds like he is beginning his final months or year based on his checked out mental state. That means using certain drugs that you would never consider for a younger horse due to long term use side effects are fair game. I gave one of our very old horses a final summer and fall of sweet retirement on a $10 bottle of dex. My vet suggested this. He had come thru winter just fine, old of coures but fine. But by late spring I was noticing weight issues and more...much like the checked out mentality you are talking of. So I started the dialogue with the vet about the last act of kindness I could give this horse. He agreed the time was coming but suggested I try the dex 1st....as I could possibly give him the summer and fall of qualtiy life. The vet was right.

        I feel for you. I have one very old cat just now. She went deaf last year and now a tad touched in the head. She always was a mouthy talker. But now she can not even hear herself and a little too off in the head to stop meowing for food even tho I just fed her. It is sad but I now in the next few months her time will be coming too.
        Thank you. I have sensed that we are entering into a final part of his life..he's just not quite right. Totally sound, but mentally just not the same horse in the last few months.

        I know I've given him a great life in the past five years and he will be with me till the end...so I take comfort in knowing that he has been loved and cherished in his senior years.

        Comment


        • #5
          Just wondering-is he quidding his hay?

          I had a senior here recently that was quite thin when he came. He was quidding his hay even though the owner said his teeth were not an issue. Three weeks after being transitioned over to hay cubes, he started gaining weight. I also added Cocasoya to his diet, which also seemed to help.

          As D Taylor said, sometimes changing the diet can make a difference. It seems some horses do better on some senior feeds than others. I've noticed that the Purina senior pellets are smaller, so it seems they are more likely to be dropped out of the mouth than some of the larger pelleted feeds. Sometimes it's a matter of trial and error to find that right mix.
          http://thepitchforkchronicles.com

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            Oh I am definitely going to experiment with feeds. We were on Pennfield Fibergized all winter with flax..

            I've tried Triple Crown Complete and not impressed
            He didn't like Blue Seal LS

            Pennfield was difficult to get in our area for a month for whatever..so I tried Blue Seal then the Triple Crown.

            He loves the Fibergized, so I need to look through the Pennfield lines and see which one would be best.

            Teeth...no, not quidding hay...he has no problems chewing. He eats a timothy/orchard..as much as he wants, 12 hours of grass and one flake of alfalfa at lunch (or pellets) He is picky and doesn't always finish his food. But we have started wetting his hay because he has a really bad cough (has one every spring).

            Comment


            • #7
              Just a thought...I have mild form of COPD that is allergy related. I pretty much check out mentally as my symptoms increase. I can only imagine with age that "brain fog" associated with his seasonal cough will worsen.

              Let us know if you find a feed he gains weight on. It is always wonderful to have an arsenal of others positive results to fall back on. My herd is not getting any younger.

              Best of luck.

              Comment


              • #8
                I've tried everything to keep weight on my older guy, oil, supplements, more feed, more hay etc. They only thing that works for him is alfalfa. Right now we're using alfalfa cubes made into slop, on top of the senior feed, hay and grass.

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Originally posted by D Taylor View Post
                  Just a thought...I have mild form of COPD that is allergy related. I pretty much check out mentally as my symptoms increase. I can only imagine with age that "brain fog" associated with his seasonal cough will worsen.

                  Let us know if you find a feed he gains weight on. It is always wonderful to have an arsenal of others positive results to fall back on. My herd is not getting any younger.

                  Best of luck.
                  That is very interesting.

                  And yes, I will keep you posted...going to pick up the Pennfield Senior Textured tomorrow...it's 12 percent fat and 14 percent protein.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I'd suggest testing for sand in his gut. It can build up slowly and it interferes with absorbing nutrition and can make them very malaised.
                    It's a pretty simple test, I am sure you can Google how to do it or have your vet explain.
                    Also has he been powerpacked for strongyles or tested for tapeworms?
                    I had those in a 20s mare I retrieved and she was dull, dull, dull and skinny despite feed. Once we did those two issues, she really perked up and is going strong in ther 30s.

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Originally posted by FatDinah View Post
                      I'd suggest testing for sand in his gut. It can build up slowly and it interferes with absorbing nutrition and can make them very malaised.
                      It's a pretty simple test, I am sure you can Google how to do it or have your vet explain.
                      Also has he been powerpacked for strongyles or tested for tapeworms?
                      I had those in a 20s mare I retrieved and she was dull, dull, dull and skinny despite feed. Once we did those two issues, she really perked up and is going strong in ther 30s.
                      He was dewormed with Quest last fall...vet had me use Equimax this past month after we pulled fecals.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I came close to losing my old girl (31) last summer with the horrific heat. She has been on SR feed for the past 10 years and I switched over to Triple Crown about 3 years ago. I gave her 4 feedings (2 more than usual) and she filled out in time for our crazy, cold winter. She kept her weight over the winter thank goodness.

                        Plan for the summer is short, turn-out during the day (up by 2-3pm). They are put out during the day due to gelding's gnat allergies . Both are kept behind fans for the rest of the time. I give them both soaked alfalfa cubes at night plus she gets an extra scoop of SR feed. Dampening her feed and hay really made a difference in her weight/condition and lessened her occasional cough.

                        Agree with checking for sand, parasites and dealing with the allergy issue (allergies make me foggy headed as well). Also review turnout routine, the heat is harder on the older ones.

                        Good Luck!
                        "Never do anything that you have to explain twice to the paramedics."
                        Courtesy my cousin Tim

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I add Legacy Supplement (encourages appetite and has arthritic meds for old joints as well!) Triple Crown senior, wetted down with some vegetable oils is my oldster's diet and she is 31!
                          Pao Lin

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            He might be having tooth problems. We have some very old (30 plus) seniors on my dad's boarding farm, and if they start losing weight with no other signs of issues it is often because they are losing a tooth and their mouth is sore. They get more of a senior grain, in a mush, plus a switch to soaked alfalfa pellets, for a few months to keep them as fat as possible, then they come back around. One horse is probably 35 and has done this 3 or 4 times, but she still canters around the field kicking up her heels happy as a clam, she is not ready to kick the bucket yet! She just doesn't have many molars left at this point. She gets all her nutrition from mush and alfalfa pellets now but she has all the hay she wants to quid on to make her feel special all day.

                            I would keep a close eye for other signs. When they start having a hard time getting around we start to think about putting them down. You can do so much with accomodating their diet if they are still reasonably spry.

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              Originally posted by fooler View Post
                              I came close to losing my old girl (31) last summer with the horrific heat. She has been on SR feed for the past 10 years and I switched over to Triple Crown about 3 years ago. I gave her 4 feedings (2 more than usual) and she filled out in time for our crazy, cold winter. She kept her weight over the winter thank goodness.

                              Plan for the summer is short, turn-out during the day (up by 2-3pm). They are put out during the day due to gelding's gnat allergies . Both are kept behind fans for the rest of the time. I give them both soaked alfalfa cubes at night plus she gets an extra scoop of SR feed. Dampening her feed and hay really made a difference in her weight/condition and lessened her occasional cough.

                              Agree with checking for sand, parasites and dealing with the allergy issue (allergies make me foggy headed as well). Also review turnout routine, the heat is harder on the older ones.

                              Good Luck!
                              My guys go out at night 360 days a year.

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Thanks everyone for the wonderful ideas.

                                He was looking a bit perkier yesterday...so I pulled him out and put my saddle on him. He felt wonderful since he was adjusted 3 weeks ago (haven't been able to ride since he was adjusted due to eyes and allergies). Walked him for 20 minutes and as soon as I asked him to pick up the trot, he started wheezing and coughing. So I brought him in. We are going to start the Dex regiment today and see if that helps the coughing.

                                Poor old guy.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I know what you mean about being mentally not the same. My 27 year old changed a lot over the winter. She is no longer sound enough for anything but ambling trail rides when I'm on her. However, she seems quite insecure in general under saddle so I have stopped riding her. Occasionnally, she will go racing around the pasture. She went through a short bout of refusing to eat this winter. She loses weight easily and at times has to be fed four times a day. She is now back on senior pellets, has regained most of her weight but refuses to eat anything mixed with water. Luckily, she is a copious drinker from her bucket so that seems to have prevented her from colicking. Her teeth have been checked and rechecked. Sometimes she quids, sometimes she doesn't. We are going to let her have a carefree summer and then make the hard decision in the fall.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by dalpal View Post
                                    Thanks everyone for the wonderful ideas.

                                    He was looking a bit perkier yesterday...so I pulled him out and put my saddle on him. He felt wonderful since he was adjusted 3 weeks ago (haven't been able to ride since he was adjusted due to eyes and allergies). Walked him for 20 minutes and as soon as I asked him to pick up the trot, he started wheezing and coughing. So I brought him in. We are going to start the Dex regiment today and see if that helps the coughing.

                                    Poor old guy.
                                    I feel for him. It is no fun when it is hard to breath. Was spring cleaning last week and kicked up some of those darn dust mites. They lock me up every time.

                                    You have albuterol syrup to fall back on if the dex does not work. Also there are mountains of readings promoting high doses of strong anti-oxidents for seasonal allergens. I have tried several and during winter supplementing biliberry does in fact afford me some benefit. During warmer weather I am outside so very much more and that in itself does much for me....much more than any antihistimne or anti-oxident.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by dalpal View Post
                                      Thank you. I have sensed that we are entering into a final part of his life..he's just not quite right. Totally sound, but mentally just not the same horse in the last few months.

                                      I know I've given him a great life in the past five years and he will be with me till the end...so I take comfort in knowing that he has been loved and cherished in his senior years.
                                      Nonsence!! 20-Something is YOUNG (to me) as my 40+ horse was just put down beginning of the month BUT he was only "Old" and slowing down the last month of his life. SO - With that, you are going to see your horse not as spry as the younger horses any longer, yeah he probably is slowing down a bit BUT he is not done yet!

                                      Change up his feeding routine, find something to fatten him up, continue to ride him (because if you don't THEN you will see what I call Aging), Love him like you already do He is not going any where for a while.

                                      My answer to the original question would be: I know when my horse is aging because he is getting white hairs above his eyes

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by dalpal View Post
                                        Thanks everyone for the wonderful ideas.

                                        He was looking a bit perkier yesterday...so I pulled him out and put my saddle on him. He felt wonderful since he was adjusted 3 weeks ago (haven't been able to ride since he was adjusted due to eyes and allergies). Walked him for 20 minutes and as soon as I asked him to pick up the trot, he started wheezing and coughing. So I brought him in. We are going to start the Dex regiment today and see if that helps the coughing.

                                        Poor old guy.
                                        My 20 year old had severe respiratory issues last summer. We put him on Tri-hist and Ventipulmin syrup and he was better, but not 100% in the heat and humidity. I also started him on smart breathe supplement and when it cooled off in the fall stopped the meds, but kept him on the smart breathe. He is doing well, full of himself and not a cough all spring. Try the smart breathe it's a great product (and no, I don't work for smart pak!)

                                        Comment

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