Tuesdays with Tony
Dr. Lacher recently saw two of our Super Seniors for a Wellness visit. One of these, Sierra, was 31 and the other, Crud, was 34 years old! Holy Old Horses! I asked her what’s an owner got to do to get a horse to that age??? Read on for the answer to the equine fountain of youth.
Let them be horses
Both of these seniors have had lots of time to be horses. Crud worked hard as a ranch horse until his early 20’s. Sierra worked a little less, but both have always had lots of turnout. Horses were made to have time outside. It becomes even more important as they get older. As they get older and creakier, a lot of time spent doing low-level exercise will keep the parts moving and the blood flowing. Outside time also lets them browse for different forages, harass birds and other woodland creatures, interact with herd mates, and generally just be a horse.
Speaking of arthritis
It doesn’t matter if you are a horse, a cat, or a human. As we age, those injuries we had over a lifetime will gradually develop into arthritis. Keeping arthritis away takes a combination of fitness work and rehabbing of injuries. Horses who spend a lot of time outside spend a lot of time walking, and all that walking helps them stay fit. During their athletic careers, work with great people who can help you design a fitness program for your horse goals. Asking your “once a week, hour-long walking trail ride” horse to go work cows for 8 hours isn’t going to turn out well. There will definitely be an injury happening.
Post-injury, you need good rehab work (that should be read as “do what your veterinarian says) to get your horse back to normal. Okay, so maybe I shouldn’t have told Teannie she was funny looking, and then she wouldn’t have broken my leg, but this blog isn’t about my injuries, it’s about horses. After any injury, your horse will change their way of going. Very conscientious work needs to go into re-strengthening the injured side, and returning things to the way they were. Rehab work has really good studies to prove it keeps career-ending injuries away longer than any other treatment. That includes your fancy stem cells! These guys are no longer elite athletes, but living outside 24/7 keeps them moving, and that movement keeps them healthy!
Doing the basics well
Know what else these seniors have had throughout their lives? Good, routine veterinary care. Sierra has been a patient at Springhill Equine since 1995, and Crud since 2006. That’s a long history of regular vaccinations, dental care, and parasite control. Those regular check-ups have helped us identify little problems early on, and keep them from becoming big problems. Those regular dental check-ups allow the docs to keep the teeth aligned so they can get nutrition out of grass and hay for as long as possible. Regular dental check-ups also let them find problem teeth early. At their age, they are going to have problem teeth. You don’t get to be 97 in human years with all your teeth intact! The sooner we address those problem teeth, the less likely they are to get infected and cause pain.
Getting old ain’t for sissies
It’s true! But with regular check-ups, and a lot of love, it can be fun! Until next week, may your food bowl be full, and your litter box clean.
P.S. Want to make regular check-ups easy? Sign up for my exclusive Wellness Program. Click here to pick which plan works best for you, and sign up today!