News & Guides

28th August 2019 by Rowen Barbary

Horses Age At Different Rates

Horses Age At Different Rates

Horses age at different rates with many horses still leading very active lives in their late teens and twenties. It will be a gradual process in most horses and typical signs to look out for as the horse grows older may be weight loss and mobility problems, but as a responsible owner we can manage and alleviate some of the conditions that bring on the aging process

Just because a horse becomes older does not necessarily mean that its competitive working career is finished, with many older horses still leading very active lives.  Regular work combined with every day turnout where possible will help the horse's general health and wellbeing.  This work will also help keep their muscles toned and joints supple.

If you have a veteran that shows no specific age related problems and is still enjoying an active life then the main priority is to continue to feed a suitable ration according to bodyweight and workload.  If you feel your veteran may benefit from a senior specific feed then there are many specialist feeds on the market,  such as Rowen Barbary Senior Support  which supplies elevated nutrients levels to help alleviate the symptoms that bring on the aging process.

For those veterans that are completely retired or just participate in some light hacking weight has to be carefully monitored, as it can quickly cause concern.

For retired veterans that do lack condition it is important to allow them access to ad-lib forage such as good quality hay, haylage or grass.  A high oil feed will help improve overall condition but it is important to remember when feeding a significant amount of oil to support the diet with correct nutrients, specifically antioxidants and vitamin E.

On the other hand a good doers weight will have to be closely monitored.  For older horses and ponies that are over weight there are low calorie feeds available that will provide a balanced diet without further promoting weight gain.  As long as the availability of the nutrients contained in these feeds is good they can be fed to the older horse or pony.


Impaired chewing ability due to loss of teeth or poor tooth condition is one of the main reasons older horses start to lose weight.  Symptoms of teeth problems include laboured chewing, quidding where horses will often drop half chewed food and loss of appetite.  If you have noticed that your veteran has any of these symptoms it is important to first get your Equine Dental Technician to examine the horse and to introduce fibre replacers into the diet.

ReadyFibre Mash from Rowen Barbary is made out of 100% high digestible fibre and is ideal to use as a fibre replacer to help maintain the fibre levels in the diet.  Taking just 5 minutes to soak to form a soft textured mash it is very palatable for veterans who have previously had trouble chewing long stem fibre and it can be used as a complete fibre replacer in the diet.

When feeding fibre replacers it is recommend to split the feed into as many small meals a day as possible, 3 or 4 portions given at regular intervals through the day will help keep the digestive system healthy.

If your veteran requires weight gain it is recommended to feed approximately 2.5% of their bodyweight daily, split between fibre sources and concentrates, and if possible allow the horse access to ad-lib fibre through the use of fibre replacers.