Have an Older Show Horse? Tips for Keeping Him Sound, Supple, and Happy in His Job

Have an Older Show Horse? Tips for Keeping Him Sound, Supple, and Happy in His Job

Hope Glynn recently hosted a live Q&A for our Masterclass private Facebook group to impart wisdom she's gained from years as a professional rider, trainer, and judge in the hunter and equitation rings. Members were able to ask for advice in all aspects of riding and training - from marketing a business to developing a weekly riding schedule.

Read on for some of Hope's insight on keeping older horses primed for their jobs.

Q: What are some tips for keeping an older show horse sound and happy in his job?

A: I've found that the most important thing is to keep your horse moving! As I age, I learn even for myself that the more I sit around, the more crippled and arthritic I feel. Horses feel this too! Movement is the easiest first solution and turnout as much as possible will help your older horse (mentally and physically) immensely.

If you’re in a situation where you don’t have a lot of turnout, then hand walk and get them out of their stalls as much as possible. Since I’m a trainer, I'm on the road a lot with horses sitting in the stalls (at shows) and that's the biggest thing I encourage. I find that the adult amateurs are better at this than their children, so if you’re a junior, get off your phone and go take your horse for a walk! The horses don’t need to stand in a 12x12 stall all day while you’re walking around on your cell phone. If you’re the rider or trainer, encourage people to take their animals out and move as much as possible.

I also use therapeutics. At times (consulting with my vet) I do give my older horses Banamine or Robaxin, which is a muscle relaxant if they get tight in the back. Some people use Previcox or Equioxx as an anti-inflammatory, but I definitely think it’s important to give horses, especially older horses, an anti-inflammatory sometimes if they need it. I know I need an Advil sometimes! I don’t think it's necessarily a negative to help horses with inflammation. I also think that horses in the hunter-jumper industry can benefit from something like Isoxsuprine, a vasodilator which will help to increase vascular channels in their coffin bone and feet. Your vet is the best person to advise you on those things.

I feel that as I work with older horses, they tell you what they need. I sometimes use a regular Adequan program or use different supplements out that that help with keeping them loose. Some oil-based supplements help keep joints looser and work better for some horses than others. That's an important lesson to note: something may work for one horse, but not another. It’s important to try a supplement, treatment, or bodywork on your older horse, see if it works, and continue to use it if you get positive outcomes. Our goal is to help these older horses out because they've given us so much.

Some folks use therapeutic plates or blankets before they go into the ring; I just got a Theraplate (for them to stand on) before they go into the ring because it increases blood flow and loosens them up. For me, that’s something I’ll use at home and at shows.

Overall, I think regular exercise and keeping them in an excellent program applies for any age of horse, but it's especially beneficial for older horses. And as always, talk to your trainer, your vet, your farrier, etc. and try different things to help give your older horse his best life.

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Feature photo Agnė Bekeraitytė for NoelleFloyd.com.