Where #SeriousHorsePeople come to better understand digestive health in horses and its impact and management.

Addressing the Digestive Health Challenges of Senior Horses

 Senior Horse Gut Health

The number of elite riders and trainers who feed SUCCEED on a daily basis is proof of how important digestive health is to top-level competitors. Our SUCCEED-sponsored riders include Olympians like Karen O’Connor and Steffen Peters, but SUCCEED is important for all horses — not just those competing at the Grand Prix level or at the AQHA Worlds. Senior horses, for example, may appear to have a much easier life than their younger peers — plenty of turnout time, little work and (ideally) a special diet — but they have their own set of challenges to overcome.

SUCCEED is an important factor in keeping senior horses healthy. We spoke with two top horsewomen to hear why they put senior horses on SUCCEED; don’t miss our follow-up post to hear the science behind senior horses and SUCCEED.

Cathy Wieschhoff, of CW Event in Lexington, Ky.

Three-day eventer, Cathy Wieschhoff, has been using SUCCEED since 2007. All of her top horses are on it — but so are two of her retired 4* eventers, Ocotillo and Spelga Dam. They’re both in their 20s and out to pasture, but Cathy feels strongly about keeping them on SUCCEED. “I’m going to do everything I can to keep them in good digestive health,” she says.

Joan Hamilton, of Kalarama Farm in Springfield, Ky.

Harlem Globetrotter, a five-time World Championship-winning Saddlebred stallion who sired many successive World Champions, was put on a daily dose of SUCCEED at the advanced age of 25 years old until his death in 2012 just short of his 33rd birthday. Bred by Joan Hamilton and trained by Larry Hodge, both at Kalarama Farm, “Harlem” showed noticeable improvement when he went on SUCCEED.

“SUCCEED made a huge difference for Harlem Globetrotter,” Hamilton said in a 2009 interview. “Now he has a bloom to his coat and his eyes are bright; he is filled out and looks like a much younger, happier horse.”

Harlem leaves behind a legacy that has spread to Canada, Europe, Australia, Greece, South America and South Africa.

Why Senior Horses Need SUCCEED

The Natural Digestive Challenges of Advanced Age

There are multiple factors that can cause a senior horse to be underweight. Mainly, the digestive tract simply doesn’t function as well as it used to, making it harder for an older horse to fulfill his daily nutrition requirements. In addition, older horses’ teeth are typically worn down, making it harder to grind food.

Ongoing Environmental Challenges

Many horse owners assume that once a horse is turned out to pasture “for good,” his digestive problems will magically be solved. It is true that mimicking a horse’s natural lifestyle — foraging slowly and constantly — and reducing the challenges of a competitive schedule will help reduce the risk of digestive upset.

But as we discussed earlier, digestive problems are still an issue in horses that are turned out, due to ongoing factors like parasites, toxins, dehydration, rich spring grass, and the possibility of ingesting foreign matter like sand. It’s critically important for horse owners to do everything possible to mitigate these factors by deworming regularly, limiting access to spring grass, and providing a source of fresh water. Other environmental challenges are best addressed by keeping your horse in the best digestive health possible.

Up Next: How SUCCEED Can Help Support Senior Horse Health

Feeding SUCCEED once a day can help with both the physical and environmental challenges in senior horses. In the second part of this post on keeping senior horses healthy, we’ll talk about why SUCCEED should be part of your older horse’s daily care. Subscribe to the SUCCEED blog so you don’t miss the science behind senior horses and SUCCEED.

Photo used by permission via Creative Commons. Photo credit: SaraiRachel

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