Riding the older horse 

As our horses age there is always the question is my horse too old to ride? There is no straight forward answer to that question, each horse is an individual and many contributing factors can determine if, and when, we should retire them. If your horse is happy, healthy, free of disease or injury, there is no reason why you can’t still hop on and go for a ride. Many horses even still compete well into their twenties, you just need to judge what is right for you and your horse. There are many things we can do to help our equine partners transition as they get older, and this applies whether we are continuing to ride or not.  

So what can we do to help? Below are some things you can do to keep your aging horse fit and healthy. 

  • Have a realistic exercise program. If your horse is just coming back into work remember as they are older, they will take longer to develop their fitness. Start off slow to begin with and gradually increase the work as their fitness improves. Slow and steady is the key, to give muscles time to develop and reduce the risk of them becoming sore.  Keep a close eye on your horses’ physical condition and demeanor, for example if your horse suddenly becomes grumpy it could mean they are feeling sore somewhere and you may need to get them checked, reduce their work or stop all together.  
  • Monitor for signs of stiffness, swelling or lameness.  As horses age they can start to develop conditions such as arthritis or degenerative changes in joints. While this does sound like it signals the end of your riding, with proper management and care you can still have some degree of riding. There are some very good joint supplements, such as Ranvets Flexi Joint Plus, that combined with regular checks by your veterinarian, can help make your older horse stay comfortable and prolong your riding time.  
  • Farrier – Maintain regular visits by your farrier to ensure good hoof health and check for any changes that may be happening to your horses’ feet.  
  • Feed and Supplementation – Older horses nutritional requirements differ from a younger horse’s needs. They may require more protein and vitamins to help maintain their muscle mass and physical condition, adding some supplements to their diet is a good idea. A vitamin and mineral supplement such as Ranvets Ration Balancer is ideal, as it covers all their daily requirements. Including oil in your horses diet will also be beneficial, providing increased fat and energy, especially when we are in those colder months. Post exercise, giving them some electrolytes and Vitamin B’s will help them recover and reduce soreness.  
  • Saddle fitting – As our horses get older their shape changes, a saddle that fitted them a few years ago might not necessarily fit them now. Making sure you have a correctly fitting saddle is very important to keep your horse comfortable and to eliminate any soreness or prevent any injury. 
  • Veterinary Care – It is more important now than ever to keep regular visits with your vet to help ensure your horse is healthy, paying particular attention to dental care, nutrition, worming and vaccinations. 

The age of your horse is just a number, it is truly an individual thing, depending on your horses health, condition, weight and yes, mentality. These days, with all the additional services and products we have at our disposal our horses can enjoy a happy and healthy life for a very long time. Riding the older horse is not only beneficial for their health and wellbeing, keeping them fit and active, it is also very enjoyable, they are already well educated and generally more relaxed, which can make life very easy and quite pleasurable.  We just must remember that with being older, we have to be more conscious of their needs to help prevent injury or health issues and be mindful that their recovery time might be that bit longer than it once was. Patience is the key, and prevention is always better than a cure. 

If you do have an older horse and have some concerns regarding their nutrition, we do have a complimentary diet evaluation service available at Ranvet, just follow the links on our website.

While the choke in horse’s episode will not necessarily result in death, the consequences of choke that is not treated correctly or resolved certainly may. As soon as the blockage is present there is damage to the esophagus (Feige et al, 2000). The veterinarian needs to remove this as quickly as they can. If this is not attainable, surgery may be required to remove the blockage.

As mentioned earlier, aspiration pneumonia is a risk when your horse is suffering from choke. If the blockage is located higher up near the throat lash area, feed that normally goes down the oesophagus to the stomach may go down the trachea and into the lungs. This feed may carry bacteria populations that can rapidly multiply in the lungs and become very difficult to treat (Feige et al, 2000). Horses that suffer aspiration pneumonia begin to show signs from 24-48 hours post choke episode.


Appt, S. A, Moll, H.D, Scarratt, W.K. Sysel, A.M. Esophageal foreign body obstruction in a mustang. Equine Pract.(1996), 8-11.

Feige, K et al. Esophageal Obstruction in Horses: A Retrospective Study of 34 Cases. Can Vet J 41.3 (2000), 207-210


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Experts in Equine Nutrition

Every product in the Ranvet range has been developed to meet a horse’s most specific need at any given time, be it in a training environment or on a breeding farm. Having pioneered the formulation of specific medications and dietary supplements for horses, the company is now recognised as a leader in the areas of equine health and nutrition.

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