There is no exact age when your horse needs to be considered “senior.” There are, however, many signs that can help determine if your horse is ready to switch to a senior horse diet: difficulty chewing feed, a more prominent backbone or swayback, weight loss, sunken hollows over the eyes, and even gray hair around the muzzle, eyes, and temples. Older horses are susceptible to Cushing’s Syndrome often losing muscle tone over time. It is important to utilize a diet with omega 6 and 3 fatty acids and increased levels of amino acids to help maintain muscle substance and top-line for these horses. Owners should also choose a low starch/sugar feed with a higher level of fiber to compensate for lower intakes of forages and maintain healthy hind gut motility. Highly digestible fiber sources such as beet pulp, alfalfa meal, and soy hulls are a great source of fiber. As your horse ages, he may not have as efficient of an immune system as in their younger days, so a diet with added selenium and Vitamin E is also important.
By modifying work regimens, maintaining a healthy weight, and providing all of the nutrition these horses require, senior horses can live longer healthier lives than ever before and they will have you to thank.