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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.

 

Getting your Good Ol’ Boy Lookin’

 Good Again

By Libby Burr, Owner, Bridger Feeds Animal Nutrition Center ,

Bozeman , MT

 

May 2013 issue  

 

 

     Feeding an older horse that has been properly managed isn’t really all that different than feeding any other horse in the stable. BUT, if that older horse’s condition has been allowed to be compromised, some extra help in the way of feed is in order.

     Okay, so maybe it was a rough winter, or life got in the way, whatever…(no judgment here — Lord knows my 23-year-old kid’s horse came off his winter turnout in less than admirable condition) and you need to rehabilitate your senior horse a bit… right along with me!

 

1) Water. The older horse needs an easily obtainable water source. If he needs to go to the creek and break his own ice, it’s time to re-think a heated waterer for him.

 

2) Blanket. The older horse, contrary to lots of beliefs, really benefits from a blanket. The old guys begin to loose body mass through staying warm at only 20 degrees! And that’s without considering the battering effects of the winter wind.

 

3) Teeth: a HUGE factor. With the angle of their teeth changing, some tooth loss, and less saliva production, I cannot stress enough how a good dental can keep older horses body condition up. Schedule that dental appointment ASAP.

 

4) Hooves. Call your farrier. Older horses often require a different “break over” to compensate for stiff joints and any horse with low-level pain usually has difficulty thriving.

 

5) De-worming. Parasites can be responsible for mass chaos inside an old horse. Be proactive, not reactive: worm hard & worm often.

 

6) Cushing’s. If he is shaggy, worm him. If he is overly shaggy and his musculature appears to be drooping from his top line, get in touch with your vet and ask about a Cushing’s test.

 

7) Feed. It’s always best to start out slow, no concentrates for now. Fresh clean water, mold & dust free hay, free choice loose mineral and salt (yes, nix those blocks please) for about four days is all you’ll want to do.

 

     I like the product Total Equine (see product write-up this issue of RMR), and recommend, on day five, adding two pounds and work him up to four pounds over a week’s time. Over my 20 years in this industry I have never seen a feed get a horse back in good flesh so fast.

 

8) Probiotics. Reestablish that all important gut micro flora that our older horses inevitably lose with age. If your senior horse has diarrhea, feeding probiotics is crucial. Adding probiotics returns balance to your old horse’s gut so that they reestablish their immune system to the fullest.

 

     There are several on the market, so consider your personal feeding practices before investing. For instance, are you able to keep the cultures in a liquid supplement alive, or is a powdered one better for you?
Do you have a dark, air-tight place to store it? How much can you store: 5 lbs. or 50 lbs.?

     A probiotic for a horse should contain live yeast cultures like Saccharomyces cerevisiae and should be fed at a rate of 25 billion colonies per day (a couple scoops depending on brand).

 

9) Before & after photos. Last idea, take a snap shot of your senior horse before you start your rehabilitation program, at two weeks, at two months, and at the 100-day mark to compare with your new and improved “after” senior horse. You will be proud of your efforts!

 

     For more help or info, contact me at 406-586-3026, or visit: www.bridgerfeeds.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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PO Box 995 • Hamilton, MT 59840 • 888-747-1000  •  406-363-4085 • info@rockymountainrider.com