We all get a little stiffer as we age, and joint health is often high on the list of priorities for owners of senior horses and ponies. Although a supplement may be the first thing that springs to mind, it’s certainly not the only the consideration to make with senior horse joint health…

A fine example of positive senior horse joint health. A horse walking toward the camera.

Weight watching

Excess weight gain and obesity can be a problem in older horses, and places excess strain on joints. Not all senior horses are prone to weight loss and a balancer is the ideal option for those able to maintain weight easily on forage alone. In addition to vitamins, minerals, and amino acids to balance a forage-based diet, SPILLERS Supple & Senior Balancer contains glucosamine, MSM and Omega 3 to support joint health.

Avoid stabling for long periods

Another way to look after senior horse joint health is to avoid stabling for long periods. Turnout provides gentle exercise but try to avoid uneven ground, heavy mud and paddocks on a steep incline, all of which increase joint strain.

Difficulty eating? It may not be his teeth!

Although teeth might seem the most obvious culprit. A reluctance to eat or difficulty chewing can also be the result of arthritis in the jaw.  Arthritis in the neck or forelimbs can also make grazing, lowering the head to eat or drink from a bucket, and pulling hay from a net uncomfortable. Consider soft, short chopped fibres and mashes for those who have difficulty chewing, and try offering feed, water and forage from raised buckets, mangers and troughs.

Speedy Mash Fibre

Snoozing instead of grazing?

Another sign of bad horse joint health is when your horse is caught snoozing instead of grazing. Look out for horses that are constantly found snoozing whilst others are grazing as the pain of chronic arthritis (or another underlying condition) may mean some horses feel unable to lie down and rest fully.  If you have any concerns, seek advice from your vet.

Supplement tips

Supplements may help to support senior horse joint health but beware of bold claims. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! Always choose a supplement from a reputable manufacturer and remember that no supplement can cure or treat joint disease. If your senior horse is still competing, make sure the supplement (and feed) you choose is BETA® NOPS approved.

For more advice on feeding for your senior horse contact the SPILLERS Care-Line.