Evaluating the Older Horse – Senior Horse Health

As horses age, their health needs change. Evaluating the older horse is an important part of meeting those needs and avoiding preventable health issues. Soundness can result in a longer life for your horse, not to mention at less expense.

With older equines, what appears to be one problem is often related to another issue that is the real, underlying cause. Woodrow Friend, DVM, from Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky, explains what he looks at when evaluating the older horse for health and soundness.


Basics of Evaluating the Older Horse

For example, elderly horses often suffer sore foot issues and weight issues that can be due to diverse underlying causes, such as Cushings, or weight loss due to dental damage. As Dr. Friend explains, a veterinarian’s approach to evaluating the health and condition of older horses includes:

  • Evaluating vision
  • Examining heart and lungs
  • General palpation of the horse’s body
  • Evaluating the older horse for soundness of the hooves and sore-footedness
  • Dental exam
  • Watching the horse walk and track, flexion tests

The video presents a good summary of basic management and general physical exam of the senior horse. And with improved diagnostics, treatment options, parasite control and nutrition, many senior equine health issues can be well-controlled, once identified.

Dr. Friend emphasizes that just like aging people, if your older horse is sound and feeling good, by all means continue enjoying whatever sport you do! Keeping our horses active (within reason) is all part of growing old with grace and purpose.