Q: I have a 19-year-old horse who I still ride daily, and occasionally compete. He is sound and in good condition, but I want to ensure that remains the case. What can I do to make sure he has everything he needs to support him as an older horse?
A: If your horse is not showing any age-related problems and is still active and sound, then you are clearly doing a lot right. Just ensure, as with any horse, that his feed ration is suitable for his body-weight and workload, and monitor his body condition score regularly. Many people also recommend a joint supplement for horses at all stages of their career, and this is an addition to consider, especially in an older horse.
If at some stage your horse does start to lose condition and body weight, and your vet is confident that it is just a sign of age and that he needs extra calories, then find a feed containing high-oil levels. These feeds are very energy dense, but still low in starches. Feeds designed for senior horses are particularly good as not only are most of them high in oil, but they also contain nutrient levels that are more tailored to their specific life stage. Therefore, they may contain more vitamin C and E to help boost the immune system. Senior feeds also tend to be more digestible, as older horses can become less efficient at absorbing nutrients from their food.