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10.1.2022 How To… Care For The Older Horse… In 10 Easy Steps: Chapter 5

Chapter 5: Health Checks

‘To keep the heart unwrinkled, to be hopeful, kindly, cheerful, reverent – that is to triumph over old age.’ Thomas Bailey Aldrich

The older horse is in as much need of a preventative health care program as the younger horse, although sometimes for different reasons. Regular maintenance checks and treatment should include dental care, farriery, worm control (or monitoring), and a general health check.

Some of the common health problems in older horses include arthritis, weight loss, heart murmurs, eye problems, sarcoids, liver and kidney disease, and Cushings disease. There’s much that can be done to help your horse stay comfortable and active.

The two main causes of weight loss are poor teeth, and poor digestive ability. You can help to reduce the risk of these with regular dental checks from a qualified Equine Dental Technician (, with an appropriate worming program as advised by your vet, and by good maintenance of your pasture.

Arthritic changes can lead to pain and reduced movement. You can help ease these for your horse with appropriate pain relief as advised by your veterinarian, with appropriate exercise, with regular grooming or massage, and with regular physical therapy (for example from an ACPAT Chartered Physiotherapist or a Registered Animal Musculoskeletal Practitioner).

Regular health checks from your veterinarian (perhaps yearly, or more often if required) can help monitor for internal problems such as eye problems, liver or kidney disease, Cushings disease, and heart murmurs. You can look out for sarcoids, and any other lumps / bumps / heat / swelling as part of your daily care, and contact your veterinarian if needed.

© Sue Palmer, The Horse Physio 2021

Treating your horse with care, connection, curiosity and compassion

January 10, 2022
Sue Palmer