There are stereotypes for just about everything when it comes to the horse world, and aging horses are no exception. We picture a hard keeper becoming increasingly thin over time, or maybe we imagine a recently retired athlete going out to a big pasture with a herd of other horses and immediately feeling content. But just like with every stereotype, these perceptions do not tell the full story, and can actually be harmful in the long run to our equine partners.
In this episode, we dive into all things Golden Oldies. We aim to clarify the physiology behind the equine aging process, and debunk some common myths in the process (spoiler alert - not all old horses struggle with weight loss!).
Our guest this week is Dr. Katie Sheats, an assistant professor of Equine Primary Care and a specialist in Equine Internal Medicine at NC State College of Veterinary Medicine. In addition to specializing in the care of older horses, Dr. Sheets also owns two senior horses in their 30s who live in her backyard. In short, she has an immense amount of both clinical and real-world experience when it comes to this topic, and she has an accordingly vast amount of knowledge to share.
Here are just a few of the topics Caroline and Dr. Sheats discuss in this week’s episode:
- What causes aging in horses? It’s more than just the passing of time...
- How weight plays into horse health as they age
- How teeth condition and gut health factors in older horses
- Tips and tricks for good preventative care
- Common chronic illnesses in older horses (and how you can get the jump on them far before your horses turn Sr.)
- Arthritic and orthopedic issues in older horses
- Deciding when to retire your horse, and what that retirement might look like for them (it’s not always just a big field and no work!)
- How to navigate the difficult decisions and conversations that one must face as horses near the end of their life