Feeding Senior Horses: What You Need to Know

As horses age, changes take place that require some different care and management. Here, we break down what you need to look for in your horse and what to look for when selecting the right feeding program.

signs of a senior horse, what to feed a senior horse, when is a horse considered a senior horse

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4 Replies to “Feeding Senior Horses: What You Need to Know”

  1. I have a senior horse that is 27 years old . He has his teeth done once a year. However this year he has developed a case of choke.
    I switched to a pelleted feed and soaked it but he still chokes every time I feed.
    He does okay on hay so far but the feed is a different story
    can you offer me any advice ?
    My vet says just stop feeding him.

    1. Hi Kathy, Choke is not an uncommon problem with senior horses or horses that have dental issues. It is primarily an eating behavior issue where the horse can get a mouthful of food and swallows it before having a chance to chew it thoroughly to reduce particle size and get the feed moist. Conventional feed buckets make this fairly easy, particularly for aggressive eater or where there is competition for food.

      You might find the following suggestions useful:
      1. Moisten the feed, which you are already doing.
      2. Feed in a shallow trough or pan so the feed is spread out so that the horse cannot get a full mouthful. This slows down the eating process and prevents the horse from getting a full mouthful.
      3. If it is not possible to use a shallow pan or trough, put some softball sized rocks in the bucket so the horse has to push them around to get the feed. This also prevents the horse from getting a full mouthful. The rocks need to be large enough so the horse cannot swallow them by accident!
      4. There are now some feeding pans on the market that have shallow compartments on the bottom so that the horse cannot get a full mouthful. Dr. Krishona Martinson at the University of Minnesota Extension Service did some testing on these and found them to be effective.

      Preventing the horse from getting a full mouthful of dry feed and swallowing too quickly is essential to reduce the risk of choke. You may find this information helpful as well for background: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?oldid=439877824

      Best wishes,

  2. I feed your senior grain to my 27yr old TB and my 31yr old Welsh/TB cross pony. They have 10 acrest of good grass and plenty of free choice hay from October through April when the grass starts to grow again but the TB has started quidding her hay and neither of them have much in the way of teeth left. Hate to give them too much grain, but any other Nutrena Products to help supplement those who can’t chew much hay anymore?

    1. Hi Robin,
      It sounds like your horses may need to be switched over to a Senior product. The good news is that Senior products are low in starch and sugar and can be fed as sole rations with limited hay. You can also soak them to produce a mash that horses with virtually no teeth at all can eat comfortably. You can adjust the feeding rate to maintain desired body condition.

      Best wishes,

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