Caring for the older horse

  • Bedding

    Bedding is very important for all veterans and we have found an excellent source just 1hr from our farm — unwanted wood that is finely shredded. It’s extremely cost-effective. Each bed is lifted twice daily.

    Some laminitic ponies have a bale of shavings scattered on top of their bed to give extra support. The beds are approximately 12in deep, so in the winter it really does take some physical work to muck out. In the larger boxes we use rubber matting.

    Dental care

    We always use a fully qualified equine dental technician on our horses, who are all given six-monthly or yearly checks. We pay very close attention to their eating and feeding habits.

    Any horse with little or no chewing ability is offered hay replacers, which is cost-effective and keeps their fibre intake to the correct amount. A hay replacer is very easy to prepare and consists of Fibre G and pasture nuts, but you must seek expert help for the quantities to suit the individual.


    For horses and ponies prone to arthritis we use Cortaflex and Cortaflex HA. Ponies suffering from Cushings disease get a product from Hilton Herbs called Cush X. We also use a herbal product for chronic arthritis, which is made up especially for a 12.2hh Cushings sufferer called Timmy. It consists of goosegrass, hawthorn and nettles.

    Being based by the sea means our land is continually fertilized by the salt, and we only really have no grazing in February and early March, which for the laminitics can prove a problem.


    We have a handful of Thoroughbreds on the yard and we keep them looking smart by tidying up their manes with a Solo Comb because many of them hate having their manes pulled.

    Grooming is vital to older horses as they naturally have much thicker coats, and they also have a tendency for greasier coats. Each horse is groomed daily.

    Being on a water meter has proved very expensive, so all our rainwater is caught in large containers in the winter, to save on cost. One paddock does have a natural spring running though it.

    Keeping warm

    Rugs are important because elderly horses will lose weight very quickly if they’re cold and tired. Even in late May, we were still bringing in and rugging-up some of the finer horses. We particularly like Horseware rugs.

    Our purpose-built shelters are also invaluable for our veterans. We bandage the horses with arthritic joints, to keep their circulation moving and their legs warm.

  • Should you have any queries about caring for your veteran or would like to contact the society (tel: 0870 2426653)
  • This “on the yard” feature was first published in Horse & Hound (2 June, ’05)

    Get up to 19 issues FREE
    UK’s No1 weekly for Horses for Sale
    Latest results and reports

  • You may like...