Roaming through the terrain with an already older and experienced horse is great and relaxing. There are hardly any situations that old horses have not yet experienced and as a long-time owner you know exactly when the horse will react and how. But when is a horse too old for that and how old can it get?
The life expectancy of horses is very different depending on the breed. The oldest are robust breeds and ponies, here an age of 40 years is quite possible. Arabs are also very long-lived and can get very old, but like other representatives of this group, they are considered to be late developers and are only fully grown when they are around 8 years old.
Warm-blooded horses, on the other hand, are fully grown at around 5 years of age, but also only have a life expectancy of around 20 to 25 years. A warm-blooded animal who reaches 30 is the big exception. Cold-blooded horses have the shortest life expectancy, they rarely live to be 20 years old. The average is 16 to 18 years. When they are fully grown varies from breed to breed.
Up to what age can a horse be ridden?
As long as a horse is still moving happily, it can also be ridden. Up to the age of 18 you can even occasionally see warm-blooded animals in competitive sports. A horse is rarely too old to go for a ride, unless it has illness-related restrictions. Nevertheless, one should be aware that a warmblood horse is “old” from the age of 20. If you convert that into human years, this corresponds to about 60 human years. Many horses are still very fit at the age of 20 and only reveal their age through slight external changes. So the back slowly begins to sag, the lower lip becomes even longer when the horse is dozing, the kulen above the eyes become deeper and, like us humans, the gray hair becomes more and more.
Caring for old horses properly
In addition to good feed, old horses need a little more attention and care than their younger counterparts, because many bodily functions deteriorate over the years. Recognized in good time, however, you can counteract many complaints. So the seniors need as much free movement as humanly possible. Ideally 24 hours a day, so that any joints affected by osteoarthritis remain in motion and are well lubricated. Regular exercise is also important for the metabolism , which becomes sluggish with age .
The old horse’s heart needs special care. Similar to us humans, this muscle tires with age and the heart valves no longer close properly. Circulatory problems or tarnished legs and water retention can be the first symptoms. With a hawthorn preparation and special heart nutrition you can support the horse’s heart very well.
The internal organs such as the liver and kidneys can be relieved by detoxifying the horse regularly . To prevent dental problems, they should be checked at least once a year. Once the old horse loses weight because it is difficult to eat, it is often difficult to get it back on. In some horses, the teeth are so worn out at some point that they can no longer chew normal hay properly, so they have to be specially nourished, for example with soaked haycobs.
Old horses don’t belong on the siding
Even if a horse is no longer as productive at the age of 20 as it might be at the age of 12, it still doesn’t belong on the sidelines for a long time. On the contrary, old horses have to be moved and worked on, so the muscles are preserved, the eyes remain elastic and the joints are well lubricated. In addition, the horse’s head also needs work, so it stays mentally young and fresh for a long time. Of course, an old horse should be presented to the farrier every 6 – 8 weeks. Also the regular vaccinations and the necessary wormer curesmust be carried out. In the herd, an old horse feels very comfortable next to the youngsters and is encouraged to move and play. Only at a very advanced age it may be necessary to remove the senior from a mixed group, for example because he no longer has a place at the hay rack.
My own old horse is now almost 23 years old and since he is a relatively heavy warm-blooded horse, he is probably not one of those horses that get very old. Unfortunately, he has not been rideable for 2 years because he has some “construction sites” in the meantime. But I can still say with a clear conscience that he still leads a life worth living. For many years I have optimized his posture as much as possible so that he doesn’t have to stand in a box, because standing is poison for old horses. I also detoxify him regularly, which he gives me with a very good general condition and an always shiny coatthanks. He also receives a supplementary food for his joints affected by osteoarthritis as well as a special food for his heart failure. He’s still the boss in my little herd of four, everyone else uses him as a guide in dangerous situations.