Conditions or ailments that are the cause of a problem that you see - your observation.

Your vet may diagnose

Aging Changes, Generally


When I evaluate older horses, I often begin by asking: "Is there underlying disease or is this just aging?"

The problems seen in aging horses are similar to those seen in aging humans. Age-related degeneration ultimately affects all body systems. Oxidation ultimately damages proteins and the very molecules that make up the body structure.

With respect to the gastro-intestinal system, very old horses have often worn through their entire reserve crown. If the teeth are still present, their grinding function has diminished. Even if a horse can adequately grind feed, their intestines are less able to digest and assimilate nutrients.

Older horses also have a high incidence of hormonal conditions, notably PPID. Chronic arthritis is extremely common in aging horses. Different types of horses show degenerative changes in the areas that were overloaded during a life of work. Spinal compression from arthritic vertebral joints are also common. Eyesight also declines with age.

my role


I might observe

You might make these observations when a horse has this condition.

Very Common
Less Common
more observations

Questions To Ask Your Vet:
  • What can I do to support my horse's health as they grow older?
  • What feed/management changes can I make to increase my horse's quality of life?
  • Is my horse suffering from natural age-related changes or is there also an underlying disease process or illness?

A good life: reasonable workload throughout life, consistent exercise throughout life, excellent nutrition throughout life, good dental and hoof care throughout life, quality companionship (owner/trainer/other horses) throughout life. Nutritional supplements may be of use in some cases.

further reading & resources

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP