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Copyright 2013 Rocky Mountain Rider. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of any editorial material, artwork and photos is strictly forbidden without express written permission of the publisher. For information about reprint rights, please contact the editor; editor@rockymountainrider.com.

 

Caring for an Older Horse

 By Dorinda Troutman, RMR Staff Writer

 

May 2013 issue  

 

      When caring for an older horse, massage therapist Coreen Kelly recommends not just putting them out to pasture and ignoring them, but keeping the horse’s mind active, finding a feeding program to compensate for natural muscle loss and joint problems, and massage grooming.

      “My 33-year-old POA-Percheron cross, Rexy, is a retired logging horse who loves the attention he gets from students at my massage school,” says Coreen. “The first time he was ridden was when he was 19, and he was 27 the first time he worked cows.

      “I don’t ride him anymore since he developed swayback, but we do all kinds of things together. The first two days of my massage classes are all about in-hand horsemanship and he really enjoys that.

      “It is so unkind to leave a horse alone. They really need companionship, and so I keep my horses in a herd on pasture during the day and in pairs at night. I also enjoy taking my old horse on walks with the dogs for exercise.”  

 

Coreen Kelly and her senior horse, Rexy. Photo courtesy Coreen Kelly.

      Coreen explains that when older horses develop swayback it means the abdominal muscles are weakening, causing the spine to sag and becoming concave. This, in turn, pulls the scapula backwards and tips the pelvic girdle down and forward.

      “Swaybacked horses are pretty stove-up, and any extra pressure caused by riding is uncomfortable and unfair to them. Even older horses with straight backs lose muscle tone and their spine begins to show more. A protein-rich feed supplement that I buy locally really helps bring back and keep muscle around the spine. In addition, I feed a lactose-based anti-inflammatory that my vet recommended to help with Rexy’s arthritis.”

      Coreen also advises massaging senior horses daily by putting about three pounds of pressure with the heel of your hand and working in a circular motion. She says that a horse owner could also use a long-nippled soft rubber curry brush to massage.

      “It’s important to keep enjoying and doing things with our old horses,” she reminds us.

 

      Coreen Kelly is an Equine Massage Therapy Instructor and owner of the Western Montana School of Equine Massage in Corvallis , Montana . 800-821-0014 or 406-961-5407. www.equinetouchmontana.com.

   

Copyright 2013 Rocky Mountain Rider. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of any editorial material, artwork and photos is strictly forbidden without express written permission of the publisher. For information about reprint rights, please contact the editor; editor@rockymountainrider.com.

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