Old Fashion Way Of Medicine To Get Rid Of Colic Feeding the Old Horse

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Feeding the Old Horse

Owning an old horse can be frustrating at times when you see your old friend die. Today, however, horses can happily live to a very old age, some even past 30 years of age. I hope this article helps you find the right care for you and your elderly spouse.

According to the NRC and veterinary authorities, a horse is considered geriatric at 20 years of age. In fact, many horse feed manufacturers offer 16 or more designed feed items for horses. Whether it is true or not is debatable. Some horses age quickly, others late. A horse will age differently depending on the lifestyle it has had, so it is wrong to label all 16 year old horses as old. However, after 20 years of age, a horse is definitely classified as geriatric because its body and organs have started to seriously deteriorate.

As a guideline, once a horse reaches 15 or 16 years of age, more attention should be paid to its condition to keep it healthy and its weight stable. From the age of 20, a body condition of 2-3 (Australian body condition scores 0-5) should be maintained.

The most common problems faced by older horses

Feeding an older horse can be a challenge because various factors play an important role in feed absorption.


The most common problem is related to the teeth. As the horse ages, his teeth will loosen, some may fall out, some may rot, and the biting of the teeth will decrease, leading to poor absorption of food and nutrients.

Common symptoms of bad teeth include:

  • Eating slowly, not being able to masticate properly
  • The feed falls from the horse’s mouth – the horse looks confused and dribbles while eating
  • Whole foods are found in grains such as grains and long stems
  • Bad breath due to decayed teeth
  • If a decayed tooth is left untreated and infected, a thick nasal discharge may appear, usually on one side.
  • Tendency to choke
  • More prone to colic. According to an Auburn University study conducted in the mid-90s, the incidence of effective colic in older horses was 88% compared to 29% in young horses. Of the 104 horses over 17 years of age, one of the main causes was dental disease (as well as poor grazing and tumors). During the same period, another study was conducted in Texas (USA) over a 12-month period to identify dietary and management factors associated with colic in horses. The results showed that horses aged 10 years and older who are stabled and still exercising regularly are at a lower risk than those who graze regularly. Other factors include recent changes in diet, type of feed, weather conditions, housing and worm infestation. Another study confirmed similar results in 2000/2001, where 364 horses were examined over a 12-month period in Texas, USA. In summary, changes in diet (type of hay, grain or concentrate) as well as feeding more than 2.7 kg of grain, feeding gray pellets, and reduced access to pasture increase the risk of colic.


As seen above, worm infestation is a major problem. This applies to all horses, young and old. If she rides a horse with parasites, her food will be reduced. One should follow a worming regimen for 6 to 8 weeks.

A horse infected with parasites is more at risk of colic and severe complications. If a horse receives a consistent worming program throughout its life, it is less likely to develop colic and is likely to live a long and healthy life.

Bad digestion

As the horse ages, its digestive system becomes less efficient at breaking down food because the horse may have reduced salivary and esophageal functions. Although calcium absorption appears to be largely unaffected, fiber and phosphorus absorption decreases with age. Then it becomes even more pronounced in horses with tumors.

When a horse is deprived of important nutrients, its immune power to fight disease will also decrease, and it will be at greater risk of not only getting sick, but also not being able to recover easily.

The horse may then lose body condition and weight.

Cutting the molds

Arthritic conditions are painful and may limit the horse in walking and grazing.

Other diseases

Horses that have developed pituitary and thyroid tumors may have reduced insulin response and develop sugar and starch intolerance. The same applies to founders who are often associated with pituitary tumors.

A horse with kidney and liver diseases also needs a special diet. In cases of kidney problems, beep pulp and lucerne hay should be avoided due to their high calcium content. In the case of liver and liver diseases, diets with high protein and fat should be avoided.

How to take care of a great horse

It is important that the old horse is comfortable and enjoying his retirement.

She should have her teeth checked every 6 months and a full veterinary checkup every 6 to 12 months. A thorough blood test is inexpensive and will help you understand how to care for your old friend. It will show many abnormalities and your vet will be able to help you find the appropriate treatment.

In the case of arthritis, in addition to medications that make the horse more comfortable, many natural remedies can also help. Acupuncture, homeopathy, shiatsu, acupressure, aromatherapy and clay therapy are a few. Devil’s Claw plant can act as a natural anti-inflammatory instead of giving phenybutazone (Bute), but it should not be given if stomach ulcer is present, in case of diabetes or heart diseases. French green tea applied as a poultice to the painful area may provide great relief.

Older horses are often bullied by young ones at feeding time. One must make sure that the older horse can eat all its food in peace.

For better digestion, eat small amounts 2 or 3 times a day.

An old horse needs good shelter because it is more sensitive to weather changes.

In cool weather, if the horse accepts it, a rug will keep him warm and help conserve his energy.

Always provide fresh and clean water.

Vitamin C may help the horse’s immune system. Vitamin C is found naturally in Rosehip. 1 to 2 tablespoons per day at meals.

Vitamin B group in the form of Brewer’s yeast may be useful, especially in cases of kidney and liver diseases. It will also help with food. Up to 100 g/day.

Sweet food should be avoided, especially in founders and sugar intolerant horses. This includes molasses, honey and sweet food mixes.

If there is no liver damage, supplementing with vegetable oil can help maintain her body condition. 2 glasses a day, gradually introduced over a period of 3 weeks. Virgin coconut oil is a rich source of lauric acid, a disease-fighting fatty acid derivative monolaurin. Cold pressed Canola oil is also an excellent oil for horses. It contains about 10% omega 3 fatty acids, 20% omega 6 fatty acids and omega 9 fatty acids. Omega-3 and 6 are important for the normal functioning of all tissues and for vision, heart, rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory diseases. These two fatty acids should be balanced and the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 should be about 2:1, which is provided by cold-pressed Canola oil. Coconut oil can be given as little as 25-100 ml of Canola. Canola can provide up to 2 cups of oil per day. When providing a high fat and high protein diet to the horse, it is important to monitor the horse’s intake to see if their consistency remains normal. If the drippings lose too much like “cow pee”, reduce the fat and/or protein content. Too much protein is found in urine because it thickens, smells, and becomes difficult to pass.

Avoid feeding starch for better digestion, especially if the horse has a tendency to bind or founder.

As digestion is not optimal at this age, avoid eating wheat. Cut grains are much safer and have shown good results with geriatric horses. Feed manufacturers provide extruded/micronized grains as well as feed items specially designed for older horses.

Herbs that can help with stomach ulcers include Marshmallow, Meadowsweet, Liquorice and Slippery Elm Bark. Once a day each of Marshmallow and Meadowsweet may help with stomach ulcers, inflammation and irritation. Liquorice should be used with caution as it is mild and should not be used when the horse is drinking or has loose manure. It should also not be used for a long time and only 1 teaspoon a day for up to 3 months. Slippery Elm Bark is good for washing at a dose of 1 to 2 tablespoons per day.

You can provide good quality protein (12-16%, 8-10% if you have kidney disease) in the form of full fat soybean meal or stabilized copra meal. A copra feed like CoolStance provides 20% crude protein while a full-fat soy feed like Soygize (HyFeed) contains 39% protein, so only a small amount may be needed. If there are no liver or kidney diseases, good lucerne seeds can be added in small amounts for protein.

Since horses may have poor teeth, provide their food with a soft texture for easier digestion as well as good quality paper. The hay may be too hard to eat or the horse will choke on it, so the grass may be wetted to soften it, or cut like a donkey. It is good practice to wet the blade to avoid dust. To do this, John Kohnke recommends placing the herb in a grocery bag and letting it soak in water for up to 1 hour. Remove the lid and let the water drain.

Always provide grass at ground level. There is a greater risk of suffocation if there is dirt in the nets that are hung too high. The horse, by nature, grazes on its own and its digestive system is adapted to this practice. Eating alone goes against her physiology and causes problems.

Since we are on the dust section, the yarn should always be wet to remove the dust. Dust is very damaging to the horse’s lungs. At the same time, stable horses should have a dust-free environment.

And of course, always seek veterinary advice, even if it seems like nothing! Better to be sad

You can find more information about feeding your horse at http://www.australiannaturalhealing.com


Sicilian PD. “Feeding and nutrition of the geriatric horse“, Veterinary Clinics of North America. Horse practice2002, p491-508

Cohen ND, Gibbs PG, Woods AM. “Dietary and other management factors associated with colic in horses, Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association1999, p53-60

Dr. J. Kohnke, Dr. Frank Kelleher, Dr. Penny Trevor-Jones. “Horse nutrition in Australia, a guide for horse owners and managers”. RIRDC Publication No. 99/491999

DG Pugh, DVM, MS, ACT Diplomacy, ACVN Diplomacy. Geriatric Horse Nutrition“, Auburn Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine2002

Dr. John Konhke. “Big horse feed”, Fact Sheet

Pete G. Gibbs, GD Potter, WL Scrutchfield, MT Martin. “Mature, old and aged horses: their management, care and use, Texas Cooperative Extension, Texas A&M University System, 2005

Victoria Ferguson “The Practical Horse Herbal”, Horses For Courses2002

Catherine Bird “A Healthy Horse The Natural Way”, The Lyons Press2005

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